Around three quarters of rail passengers across Britain are unaware of their compensation and refunds rights, according to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), an independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain’s railways.

A study conducted by the ORR revealed that more than 75% of rail passengers ‘do not know very much’ or ‘nothing at all’ about their consumer rights and how to exercise them when trains are delayed or cancelled.

About 74% of the study participants find that train operators do ‘not very much’ or ‘nothing at all’ to proactively promote compensation rights awareness.

"Britain’s rail industry needs to be more transparent and proactive in providing information."

Passengers also suggested that awareness can be provided by prominently displaying compensation information on websites; posters at stations; information on the back on tickets; automated claims processes; and compensation in cash or vouchers for online use.

A total of nearly £10.2m in compensation was paid out to passengers by 11 train companies during 2010-2011, according to data obtained by the ORR.

ORR chair Anna Walker said: "Passengers must be at the heart of the rail industry and are crucial to its growth and success. We want to see that passengers are treated fairly, receive the quality of service they pay for, and when this is not the case, can hold their service providers to account.

"Our research suggests that simply putting information on a website, or only making it available on request, is not sufficient to help consumers be aware of or exercise their rights."

The ORR has already taken several steps to enhance passenger awareness and enable them to take up of their rights.

As part of the industry initiatives, a ‘toolkit’ has also been developed by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) listing for operators a range of measures that could be adopted to improve awareness of their compensation and refund rights.

Ms Walked said: "Britain’s rail industry needs to be more transparent and proactive in providing information. This includes data on passenger compensation. ORR will work with industry to develop a code of practice for train companies which will be in place by next year, setting out what ticketing information should be provided to customers to help them make informed choices."