Court rules local rail compensation case can progress

A local rail compensation case can move forward again, after a judge overturned an earlier ruling.

Sergei Cristo, 43, brought the case against Southern after experiencing overcrowding on his regular commute to London from Earlswood.

Earlier this year a district judge at Reigate County Court ruled that the claim be struck out.  However, on Monday 24 October, a circuit judge at Guildford County Court allowed an appeal by Mr Cristo and overruled that decision.

Barrister Simon Goldstone, of 4 Pump Court chambers in London, acted for Mr Cristo free of charge. He successfully argued that there might come a point where a rail company breaches its duties under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

Mr Goldstone commented:

“For Mr Cristo, who had been prepared to endure cramped, standing conditions for his 45 minute daily commute from Earlswood to London Bridge, that point was reached when he was physically unable to board his commuter service.

Her Honour Judge Williams accepted that Mr Cristo might be entitled to damages outside of the regime set down in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

Southern Railway, who had spent over £15,000 on legal fees in their attempt to shut out Mr Cristo’s claim, now face a fully contested trial.”

Reigate MP Crispin Blunt supported Mr Cristo bringing the case, and remarked:

“There is a point of principle at stake in this case: that train operating companies should not be able to let down their paying customers forcing them to endure intolerable travelling conditions and delays on a sustained basis, comprehensively breaching their contracted responsibility to deliver a service on a prolonged basis.

This case from 2014 is plainly strong. It is obvious that passengers suffering the increased disruption in 2015 and 2016 will be watching this with care. I am delighted that Judge Williams has enabled the justice system to hear this important case, giving hope that it might deliver some fairness.”

The hearing is expected to be held in early 2017, most likely at Reigate County Court.

When approached for comment, a Southern spokesperson said:

“We do not comment on cases before the courts in which we are involved.”

Sergei Cristo told that he no longer relies on the rail company to get him to work:

“I moved to London because I could not take the dreadful commuting by Southern any longer. What used to be a pleasant journey ten years ago was transformed into a nightmare.”