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Delayed Virgin Trains passengers will be offered compensation in the form of a cheque as the default option rather than travel vouchers, the operator has announced.

The policy, which will apply on the east and west coast routes, is the latest attempt by the company to improve its response to disrupted journeys.

In October the firm launched a system whereby west coast travellers who buy Advance tickets through its website receive money directly on to their payment cards if they are entitled to compensation.

New arrangements came into effect in July last year meaning all rail passengers can request to receive their pay out in cash.

Graham Leech, group commercial director at Virgin Trains, said: “We always want to be on the side of passengers. That’s why we wholly support the move to offer cash compensation as a first option to customers and why we were the first operator to introduce automatic delay repay.”

Some 5% of trains run by the operator were either cancelled, at least 30 minutes late or missed a scheduled stop in the 12 months to March 5, according to Network Rail figures.

The average for rail firms across England and Wales is 3%.

Mr Leech said: “We’re committed to making claiming compensation simpler and clearer for customers.

“We never want passengers to suffer delays or disruption but when things do go wrong we want to put it right.”

Virgin Trains was one of the operators affected when damage to overhead electric wires near Birmingham Airport caused severe disruption on Tuesday.

The problem affected routes serving much of the country, including Edinburgh, North Wales, Manchester, London and Southampton.

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