24 December 2020
In mid-December the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that up to £3 million would be made available to provide up to 80,000 more seats on coach services over the planned Christmas travel window (23 to 27 December 2020).
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the Government was working with the coach industry, including National Express, megabus and Snap (who together provide coach services covering Great Britain), to ensure extra scheduled services are provided over this period (including on Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
However, on 19 December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a change in regulations and guidance which meant that the relaxation of restrictions would only apply on Christmas Day and not during the five-day period previously announced. In addition, people were being urged not to travel if at all possible and those in the new Tier 4 (all of London and large parts of the South East) were instructed that they must not travel outside that Tier.
Mr Shapps then confirmed that the Government would provide cash refunds for domestic rail and coach tickets bought in expectation of being able to take advantage of the previous Christmas travel window between 23 to 27 December. This applies, he went on, to journeys in England booked on or after 24 November, when the Christmas travel window was announced.
“Operators will be able to issue refunds immediately,” Mr Shapps said, “and passengers should check the website of their operator for how to claim. We urge people to be patient as rail and coach operators will be processing high volumes of refunds over the coming weeks.” The aim, he concluded, is for no-one to be left out of pocket for doing the right thing — staying home in Tier 4, and elsewhere staying local and only meeting their Christmas bubble on Christmas day.