Rail firms should be forced to pay higher compensation for delays to “level the playing field” with airlines, according to the boss of Flybe.

Chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said pay-outs should be set at three times the value of rail tickets.

She claimed that train companies enjoy a “different relationship” with the government.

“It is not a fair playing field,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “We do not compete on the same rules.

“Even the people who have their train cancelled would not expect to get more than their ticket price,” said Ourmieres-Widener. “But they would expect the airlines to pay €250.”

Airlines must pay out a minimum of €250 per person for delays of more than three hours under EU regulations

But UK rail companies operate their own “passenger charters”, which dictate levels of payment.

In general, compensation is capped at the face price of the ticket, although appeals can be made for passengers’ resulting losses.

Flybe’s short-haul flight network operates under the strapline of “faster than road or rail”.