National Rail tickets sign
The UK rail regulator has called for an overhaul of the system to claim refunds for train delays Getty

Train passengers must be made aware of their rights when journeys are delayed and forms to claim compensation should be simplified, the UK rail regulator has ruled.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) also called for "clearer, plain-English forms and website information to make claiming simpler", adding better information and a stricter policy in terms of monitoring standards were needed.

The recommendations come after a three-month investigation into the rail industry was launched in response to a complaint from consumer group Which?. In its examination, the rail watchdog found that 80% of passengers did not claim refunds to which they were entitled.

However, the ORR indicated a number of train companies have already taken steps in the right direction and offer automated refunds in a number of circumstances for delays, such as for season ticket holders with smartcards using c2c services.

Along with watchdog Transport Focus, the rail regulator outlined plans to monitor rail firms to ensure they meet the new requirements and it will conduct survey of 8,000 passengers to establish the width of the gap in compensation between entitlements and actual payouts.

Which? welcomed the findings but insisted millions of passengers were not receiving the right compensation. "The pressure is now on the train companies to show they can bring about urgently needed basic improvements for their customers," said executive director Richard Lloyd.

"Where breaches of consumer law and licence conditions have been found, the ORR must take enforcement action without delay. The government must now ensure that the rail regulator has all the powers and duties it needs to be a consumer watchdog with real teeth."

In July 2015, for the first time ever, rail companies allowed customers the choice to demand compensation in cash rather than rail vouchers and the total payout doubled in the two years between 2013 and 2015.