Newbury train station and the region’s train operator First Great Western featured in a damning television programme last night which revealed that FGW staff were told not to offer the cheapest rail fare to passengers.
Channel 4’s Dispatches programme “Are you paying too much?” featured an undercover reporter who observed a trainer telling staff not to offer the cheaper ticket.
An unidentified trainer was filmed telling First Great Western staff at the station: “From Reading to London it’s cheaper to do a single in and a single back. Fact, alright?
“However, don’t do it, because it’s about £2 difference, and you’re just causing problems for everybody else. Okay, because if you do it, what’s the customer going to expect every day?”
The undercover reporter then points out that the saving amounts to £10 each week and the trainer answers with: “There’s a line to draw. There’s a line to draw guys and that’s one we do draw because £2, yes, I understand where you’re coming from, absolutely, but we draw a line.”
The trainer later contradicts himself, pointing out that staff must in fact follow Association of Train Operating Company (ATOC) rules and offer customers the best deal.
The programme also revealed concerns over a lack of information in times of serious incidents. One member of staff at Newbury rail station said that in the event of a fatality they wouldn’t be able to contact some senior staff for an hour.
In response to the allegations, First Great Western spokesperson James Davies said: “It is disappointing that the trainer initially got the answer wrong, but we are pleased he clarified the correct position later in the session.
“We would of course expect the correct advice to be given straight away and we will make sure that our trainers are clear about the correct position in the future.
He said that the conversation shown regarding split tickets “accurately reflect the rules every train operator must follow.”
He added: “We agree that these rules – and many other rules that have their roots in the British Rail era – need reviewing to make the ticket buying process simpler and clearer for customers.”
There were also allegations that timetables were manipulated to the train company’s advantage which FGW have strongly denied, calling it "simply incorrect."
For the full story pick up a copy of the Newbury Weekly News out Thursday.
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