Rail firms accused of forcing Christmas travellers to pay hundreds of pounds for ‘rip-off’ tickets
(20.12.2007 Daily Mail)
Millions of train passengers are paying up to 3 times over the odds for their
tickets because of a Christmas fare “rip-off”. Passengers who try to book the
cheapest tickets have found they were all sold out weeks – and in some cases months
Train companies were accused of restricting the number of cheap seats available,
with rail unions claiming many deals were “simply a mirage”, applying to fewer
than one in ten sales on the busiest routes. Several Christmas deals were said
to have sold out in October.
A Mail investigation showed that none of the cheapest fares was left available
on some of the busiest key routes at Christmas. In some cases, booking staff
said the cheapest tickets available were saver tickets – which are up to three
times the cost of the cheapest ‘value’ tickets – which had sold out weeks ago.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of consumer group Passenger Focus said: “People
have no idea how many cheap tickets there are. It could be 2,000, 200 or just
two. The train companies must be honest about how many cheaper tickets are available.
But the Association of Train Operating Companies denied rail firms were restricting
cheap tickets, insisting they were making more were available this year. It accused
the [Transport Salaried Staffs Association] of potentially misleading passengers.