The companies got £180.5million for disruption but passed  just £80.7million to customers.

Network Rail pays the huge sums to operators for delays beyond their control.

Virgin’s West Coast was the biggest recipient with £28.2million  but  paid  just £17.4million to  travellers.

Great Western got £28.1million but only gave passengers £9.9million.

Govia Thames was given £18.5million but refunded just £6.4million.

Compensation to the train companies has more than tripled from £58million in 2012.

University researcher Stephen Allan, 38, a regular train user from Canterbury, Kent, said: “Rail companies should be doing much more to make it easier to get compensation.”


Heating engineer Steve Kinsey, 46, of Stoke, said: “I am regularly delayed and sometimes I’ve been charged to claim compensation. It’s hardly worth the effort.”

Bruce Williamson, of train user campaign group Railfuture, said: “There’s the important question of what proportion of this money goes to passengers.”

Campaign for Better Transport chief Darren Shirley  said: “One way to improve the system would be nationwide smart ticketing, which would allow for automatic refunds.”

Virgin, GWR and Govia Thames said they had prompt repayment systems for delayed and cancelled trains.

Compo they received was part of contractual agreements with Network Rail for faults beyond their control.

Network Rail said: “We know services   haven’t been good enough  and we take responsibility for the part we have played in poor reliability.”

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