SCOTRAIL has paid back almost £3.5 million to passengers over delayed in trains in just five years, data shows.

The train operator's Delay Repay Guarantee gives back up to 100% of fares to anyone hit by late services. To claim the compensation, travellers have to claim online or by post, not via station ticket offices.

Data published by the Scottish Government shows those claims have run to almost £3.5m over a five-year period.

Even this the onset of the pandemic, when passenger journeys plummeted, nearly £90,000 has been handed back to members of the public.

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “Providing the best possible service for customers is at the heart of the work we do, and our Delay Repay Guarantee is an important part of that.

“We know how much of an inconvenience it is to customers when things don’t go to plan, and it is only right that they are compensated when that happens.”

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ScotRail is currently run by Dutch firm Abellio, but Scottish ministers have pulled the breaks on that contract three years early. The deal will end in March and ScotRail will then be under the control of the Scottish Government as the operator of last resort.

That decision followed years of complaints over punctuality and service by members of the public following the awarding of the contract in 2015.

In 2016-17, 43,350 people sought refunds, claiming a total of £405,460.

By 2019-20, the biggest year for the scheme, the claimant number hit 115,920 and almost £1.13m.

Altogether, payments reached £3.39m between 2016-17 and 2020-21.

Delay Repay is open to people affected by postponements of 30 minutes or longer. Repayments start at 50% of the price of a single ticket or 25% of a return for waits of up to 59 minutes and rise to the entire ticket cost for delays of two hours or longer.

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Under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act, individuals may be able to claim extra compensation if the delay means they incur additional costs.

Passengers are used to January fare rises, but no announcement about 2022 charges has been made so far. Transport unions have called for the scrapping of charges for under-24s and over-60s when public ownership begins.

The ScotRail franchise agreement ties regulated fare rises to the RPI method of calculating inflation and Labour has predicted a 3.8% hike, which would be the biggest for several years.