Fares, rail policy and DfT news

13.12.17

Companies ‘misleading passengers’ by selling tickets for cancelled Christmas services

Industry watchdog Transport Focus says train companies are misleading their passengers by allowing them to buy tickets for trains that will not run over Christmas.

Following an investigation, the organisation said that some sections of the industry were not correctly informing passengers in time about disruptions.

With several major upgrade projects expected to cause delays and cancellations over the Christmas period, Transport Focus says the issue is even more prevalent.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog, said operators are expected to release timetables at least 12 weeks before travel so that passengers do not end up booking tickets on trains that will not be running.

He urged companies to carry out a network-wide review to ensure Network Rail and operators keep to timetabling requirements, as well as notify passengers who have already bought tickets of any changes.

“Failure to release timetables 12 weeks ahead of travel can mean passengers buy tickets for trains that will not run. That can’t be right,” Smith argued.

“Train operators’ advice is to book early at Christmas to get the best deal, but if the timetable has not been finalised only more expensive ‘on the day’ tickets can be bought.

“Being forced to change plans because the railway hasn’t got this right will only result in more frustration from passengers. The rail industry must act urgently to make sure the timetable is accurate 12 weeks ahead if passengers are to trust they are on their side.”

Earlier this month, train companies announced the biggest rise in ticket costs in the last five years. The decision was condemned by Transport Focus, with Smith saying a “chill wind will blow down England’s platforms in January as rail fare increases bite.”

Although problems with tickets this Christmas are unlikely to be affected by next year’s rise, the watchdog is looking to the next major works period in Easter to ensure that published timetables are correct.

Top image: Torsten Dettlaff

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Comments

DP   13/12/2017 at 11:39

Absolutely scandalous and surely something the TOCs should be retrospectively fined for doing. In no other industry would a service provider be allowed to sell tickets for a service it had no intention of providing without a ton of bricks being dropped on it by a regulator. Just look at Ryanair, who have been taken to task by the CAA for breaking consumer law. Where is the protection of passenger/consumer rights in the rail industry?

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