You can get a refund for train and coach tickets cancelled due to Christmas rule changes

Thousands are now seeking refunds for travel after the government announced changes to rules during the Christmas period. 

Following changes to coronavirus restrictions over the Christmas period, the government has pledged to refund coach and rail travel to passengers who booked for the previous relaxation period, between 23 and 27 December.

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Some air passengers may also be entitled to a refund on travel.

Who is eligible for a refund?

Those who booked train or coach travel in England within the original Christmas relaxation window (23 to 27 December) will be entitled to a cash refund as a result of the rule changes.

You must have booked the travel on or before 24 November, when the relaxation was first announced.

"Passengers will not be left out of pocket for complying with the new Christmas rules," the government said.

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If you booked air travel over the same period, you’ll usually receive a refund if your airline operator has cancelled your flights. If they are not cancelled, you may be able to postpone your trip or get a credit note for future use. 

How do I claim my refund? 

If you booked rail or coach travel, you should check the website of your operator for further details on how to claim your refund. 

The government urged people to "be patient," given coach and rail operators will be processing a high volume of refunds in the coming weeks.

Similarly, if you were planning to travel by plane, you should check with your airline as to whether they’re able to offer you a refund on your travel.

What are the changes to the rules? 

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In an announcement made on Saturday 19 December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson withdrew the planned five day relaxation of coronavirus rules over the Christmas period, reducing the days of permitted mixing between up to three households to Christmas day alone.

The PM also announced a new Tier 4 for London and the South East of England, which includes a ban on travel outside the area. This is partly due to a faster-spreading variation of coronavirus which has been found to be concentrated in the South East.

Tier 4 restrictions are broadly similar to the national restrictions imposed during the last lockdown in November.

This means that residents in Tier 4 areas have to stay at home except for essential purposes, with non-essential retail and personal care services closing. 

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People are not permitted to enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and those from Tier 4 areas are not allowed to stay overnight away from home, affecting many Christmas plans.

More widely, members of the public have been advised to consider whether their Christmas travel is truly essential, and to keep their celebrations local rather than travelling outside of their area.

The tiers will next be reviewed on 30 December, when some areas could see their tier changed.