The ruling in a landmark court case on season ticket charges is likely to benefit Britain’s hundreds of train passengers, according to a report by the Telegraph.
The ruling in favour of a passenger travelling into London from St Albans could result in regular commuters saving over £700 a year by buying their season ticket from a different station. However train operators are now looking to fix ‘loopholes’ that could otherwise force them to cut the cost of season tickets.
The complainant, Andrew Myers, successfully sued First Capital Connect after he found he was paying £700 more than the cheapest available ticket on his route. Mr. Myers, who works in the City, found that a season ticket from Watford North, costing £3,068 a year, was valid for travel via St Albans into London, for which he was paying £3,800.
First Capital Connect claimed that it was due to a ‘loophole’ in the route planner, which puts St Albans on the route into London from Watford, even though it was further away from the capital. The company had initially sought to settle the case out of court, subject to a ‘non disclosure’ order, but Mr. Myers decided to sue the company.
Mr. Myers won the case and has also been awarded costs against the company by the court, which ordered FCC to pay £2,193.
According to a spokesman for FCC, Mr. Myers has uncovered a ‘previously unknown historic routing guide error’, in force since the days of British Rail.
Roy Cooper, FCC’s fares and pricing manager, said he had asked the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) to close the loophole as ‘this could set a precedent and cause other similar claims’.
David Sidebottom, a director of the consumer watchdog Passenger Focus, said in the Telegraph: ‘We’re disappointed to see that in this case the company continued to resist making a speedy apology and provide recompense to the passenger, when internally it had already accepted it was wrong.’
An ATOC spokesman said: ‘This is an example of a very obscure error in a system that offers millions of tickets for travel between more than 2,500 stations. If other such errors are found, we will look to correct them to ensure that all passengers are treated fairly.’