“Please help me persuade Arriva Trains Wales and Virgin Trains to be more flexible to the needs of the travelling public!” – Paul rowlands

Description

Paul rowlands

Hi,
My wife and I travelled into Manchester on Sunday 18th December 2011. We were dropped off at Piccadilly Station, and before we headed into town we thought it wise to purchase tickets to get back to Wilmslow, to avoid a rush at the end of the night. We did so, using a Virgin ticket machine, at a cost of £2.20 each (off peak).

We arrived back at the station later in the evening, and boarded the Wilmslow train. This was the Arriva 21.34 to Crewe. The ticket collector asked for our tickets, which we duly produced, only to be told they were not valid for travel. He pointed out the very small lettering that stated the tickets were only valid on Virgin trains - something I was totally unaware of. Given I was travelling the same route, I assumed all tickets were valid on all trains.

The ticket inspector then proceeded to charge me £9.60 for an Anytime Day single. I challenged this, as my original tickets, which I thought were valid, were £2.20 each. He explained the Anytime ticket was the cheapest available.

I'd like to put this in context.I travel into Manchester from Wilmslow on the train quite regularly, and I was never made aware that a ticket purchased from a Virgin machine wan't valid on Arriva. We are only talking about £10, but frankly I think this is disgraceful! Surely the ticket collector could have exercised a little common sense, as it was clear I'd purchased a ticket in good faith?

I always buy a ticket to travel, I've never dodged a fair in my life, and I even cleaned up the table before my wife and I sat down, only to feel ripped off be a train company I thought was decent.

Very disappointed.

Paul Rowlands

Problem History

  • 1 Paul rowlands reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 23:17 18 Dec 2011
  • 2 Paul rowlands wrote to Arriva Trains Wales close 23:17 18 Dec 2011

    Here is the letter that Paul rowlands wrote.

    Tickets to travel

    Hi,
    My wife and I travelled into Manchester on Sunday 18th December 2011. We were dropped off at Piccadilly Station, and before we headed into town we thought it wise to purchase tickets to get back to Wilmslow, to avoid a rush at the end of the night. We did so, using a Virgin ticket machine, at a cost of £2.20 each (off peak).

    We arrived back at the station later in the evening, and boarded the Wilmslow train. This was the Arriva 21.34 to Crewe. The ticket collector asked for our tickets, which we duly produced, only to be told they were not valid for travel. He pointed out the very small lettering that stated the tickets were only valid on Virgin trains - something I was totally unaware of. Given I was travelling the same route, I assumed all tickets were valid on all trains.

    The ticket inspector then proceeded to charge me £9.60 for an Anytime Day single. I challenged this, as my original tickets, which I thought were valid, were £2.20 each. He explained the Anytime ticket was the cheapest available.

    I'd like to put this in context.I travel into Manchester from Wilmslow on the train quite regularly, and I was never made aware that a ticket purchased from a Virgin machine wan't valid on Arriva. We are only talking about £10, but frankly I think this is disgraceful! Surely the ticket collector could have exercised a little common sense, as it was clear I'd purchased a ticket in good faith?

    I always buy a ticket to travel, I've never dodged a fair in my life, and I even cleaned up the table before my wife and I sat down, only to feel ripped off be a train company I thought was decent.

    Very disappointed.

    Paul Rowlands

  • 3The problem report was resent to Virgin Trains 13:57 19 Dec 2011
  • 4 Dave H commented close 13:57 19 Dec 2011

    Most ticket machines will display all fares and you should than have the option to select the one you want and re4ad CAREFULLY the qualifying text. I regularly travel Glasgow to Leeds and the fare I pay via Appleby is roughly £47 return, which I select specifically in preference to the £90 or so for via other routes.

    I can get a half price walk-up fare between Glasgow and Newcastle if I narrow my option to Cross Country only and saved £10 on Stoke to Manchester by using Virgin in place of Cross Country for the trip. With a restricted fare like this all the fare goes to the nominated operator rather than a portion based on the calculated share of the fare like yours.

    I can't help wondering whether you would have actually been better off getting a TfGM ranger fare - unlimited travel to their boundary stations with a real bargain for travel after 18.30 - valid on all trains to the last station stop within/at the boundary.

    Lesson learned but a PR fail for YAC/ATW.

  • 5 Myf Nixon commented close 13:57 19 Dec 2011

    Hi Paul,

    I've forwarded your message on to Virgin too, as it also concerns them. Good luck getting a decent response.

    anorak
    admin
  • 6 Relations, Customer responded to Paul rowlands close 13:58 19 Dec 2011
    Thank you for contacting us.

    This is an automated email acknowledgement confirming receipt of
    your email.

    We will respond again as soon as possible. However we are
    dealing with a high level of correspondence at the moment so
    this may take longer than usual.

    If your enquiry is urgent or you are due to travel in the next
    few days, please contact us on 0845 000 8000 (08:30-18:15
    Mon-Fri, 09:00-16:00 Sat, closed Sundays).

    Regards,

    Customer Relations
    Virgin Trains.

    show quoted sections

    ________________________________  
    ****************************************************************************************
    The information in this email is confidential and/or privileged
    and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is
    addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not
    read, use, copy, print or disseminate the information - please
    advise the originator immediately by reply e-mail and delete it.
    Although this email and any attachments are believed to be free
    of any virus, or any other defect which might affect any
    computer or IT system into which they are received and opened,
    it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that they
    are virus free and no responsibility is accepted by Virgin
    Trains for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt or
    use thereof.

    Any opinions expressed in this email message are those of the
    sender and do not represent those of Virgin Trains or affiliated
    Companies in any way and reliance should not be placed upon its
    contents. Unless otherwise stated this email message is not
    intended to be contractually binding. Where an Agreement exists
    between our respective companies and there is conflict between
    the contents of this email message and the Agreement then the
    terms of that Agreement shall prevail

    Thank you

    [email address]

    Virgin Trains is the trading name for West Coast Trains Limited
    (a subsidiary of Virgin Rail Group Ltd), a company registered in
    England and
    Wales (number 3007940) whose registered office is at The School
    House, 50 Brook Green. London. W6 7RR
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  • 7 Dave H commented close 14:01 19 Dec 2011

    A better PR action would have been to recognise a bona fide mistake and waive the penalty "this time". A bus driver who treats the forgetful pensioner with a friendly 'remember your pass next time' delivers a far better result than a miserly one demanding they pay the full fare - word soon spreads and it loses far more business than the tiny sum gained

  • 8 Virgin Trains responded to Paul rowlands close 14:43 19 Dec 2011
     

    Dear Mr P Rowlands,

    Thank you for your email which we received on 19 December 2011.
    Your comments have been entered into our case management system
    under reference 4-2083420 and we will respond to you as soon as
    possible.

    If you are making a claim for compensation or refund in line
    with our Passengers Charter, please reply to this email with the
    information listed below. This will help us to process your
    claim more quickly.

    There is no need to reply if you included this information in
    your original email.

    o Your full postal address;
    o A scan or photo of your tickets, or:
    o If your tickets were not purchased through Virgin Trains
    website or telesales office, some other proof of purchase
    (e.g. a copy of the email confirmation for your booking).

    If it is an urgent matter, however, you may wish to give us a
    call on 0845 000 8000 (Mon-Fri 08:30-18:15, Sat 09:00-16:00,
    closed Sundays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day) quoting the above
    reference. In the meantime, we will do our utmost to reply as
    soon as we can.

    Regards

    Virgin Trains Customer Relations Team

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  • 9 Paul Hollinghurst commented close 18:47 19 Dec 2011

    Tickets from the Virgin machine are valid on Arriva trains. The problem is that the £2.20 to ticket is only valid on Virgin services. Having said that I have every sympathy for you as this is entirely the fault of the very complex fares system as I believe there is in fact no ‘Off-Peak Single’ fare apart from the Virgin specific one; you are expected to buy a return instead!

    In the case of Manchester Piccadilly to Wilmslow, a search on National Rail Enquiries for trains on a Sunday evening gives no less than 8 different fares:
    Off-Peak=£2.30 "Off-Peak Day Single"
    Off-Peak=£2.75 "Cheap Evening Return"
    Off-Peak=£4.50 "Off-Peak Day Return"
    Off-Peak=£5.50 "Off-Peak Day Return"
    Anytime=£4.20 "Anytime Day Single"
    Anytime=£5.10 "Anytime Day Single"
    Anytime=£5.80 "Anytime Day Return"
    Anytime=£7.40 "Anytime Day Return"

    As I mentioned what is particularly confusing is that there is only on 'Off-Peak' single and this is the one which is only valid on Virgin services. For any other operator you would need to buy a “Cheap Evening Return”. For anyone making a single journey in the Off-Peak it would be extremely easy to choose this at a ticket machine, rather than the "correct" thing which is to buy a return and throw away part of this.

    This is of course insane, but things like this have been allowed to persist for years during which time the Department for Transport have just ignored the problem, with the rail industry claiming it has simplified the fares a couple of years ago whereas in fact they just renamed a few of them.

    Fortunately there is now an organisation which is specifically campaigning for a thorough overhaul of the fares system, and also successfully campaigned to reduce the size of the fares rise this year. They also have a good understanding of what is wrong.
    They are:
    http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/fairfares/
    "help make fares cheaper, simpler and fairer".

    anorak
    admin
  • 10 Customer Relations responded to Paul rowlands close 15:50 20 Dec 2011
    Thank you for contacting Arriva Trains Wales. Your message has
    been received and assigned the reference number  ATW-111218-BCB.

    Our usual target response time is ten working days, and we aim
    to provide you with a full reply within this timescale. If you
    have any queries in connection with your case, then please
    contact us on 08456 061 660. We're open between 8am and 8pm
    Mondays to Saturdays, or 11am until 8pm on Sundays.

    Please note that our role is primarily to investigate and
    respond to comments, complaints and suggestions regarding Arriva
    Trains Wales services. If you are planning a journey and need to
    find out times and fares, or to check if there is any disruption
    to services, please visit [1]www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk
    or [2]www.nationalrail.co.uk.

    Yours Sincerely

    Customer Relations

    Arriva Trains Wales 

    Diolch am gysylltu â Threnau Arriva Cymru. Mae’ch neges wedi
    cael ei derbyn a rhoddwyd iddi’r rhif cyfeirnod ATW-111218-BCB.

    Deg diwrnod gwaith yw’r amser ymateb rydym yn anelu ato fel
    arfer, a’n nod yw rhoi ateb llawn i chi cyn pen y cyfnod hwn. Os
    oes gennych unrhyw ymholiadau ynglŷn â’ch achos, cysylltwch â ni
    ar 08456 061 660. Rydym ar agor rhwng 8am ac 8pm o ddydd Llun i
    ddydd Sadwrn, neu rhwng 11am ac 8pm ar ddyddiau Sul.

    Nodwch mai ein swyddogaeth yn bennaf yw ymchwilio ac ymateb i
    sylwadau, cwynion ac awgrymiadau am wasanaethau Trenau Arriva
    Cymru. Os ydych chi’n cynllunio taith ac angen cael amserau a
    chostau tocynnau, neu holi a oes unrhyw darfu ar wasanaethau,
    ewch i [3]www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk
    neu [4]www.nationalrail.co.uk.

    Yn gywir

    Cysylltiadau Cwsmeriaid

    Trenau Arriva Cymru

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  • 11 Customer Relations responded to Paul rowlands close 13:43 29 Dec 2011
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    29 December 2011

    Your Case Reference: ATW-111218-BCB

    Dear Mr Rowlands

    Thank you for your e-mail in which you bring to my attention
    that you feel you were overcharged by the conductor of your
    Manchester to Wilmslow service on 16^th December 2011.

    Having looked at the list of walk-on tickets available for this
    route I can confirm that the correct price of 1 AnyTime day
    single ticket, which is the only single ticket valid on our
    trains between these stations; is £4.80 each. In your e-mail
    you inform me that you were charged £9.60 or 2 x £4.80 for
    your ticket; Therefore on this occasion I must inform you that
    our conductor has charged you the correct price.

    When using a ticket vending machine the machine may offer you a
    number of tickets over the same line of route. Should you not
    be aware of the terms and conditions of use for different
    tickets, I would advise you to either seek assistance prior to
    making your purchase or visit the station booking office.

    Please accept my apologies if this was not the response you were
    expecting on this occasion and if I can be of any further
    assistance please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    Yours sincerely

    John Haynes

    Customer Relations Advisor

    Arriva Trains Wales

    Tel 08456 061 660

    E-mail [email address]

    Web www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk

    Address St MaryÂ’s House, 47 Penarth Road, Cardiff, CF10 5DJ

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  • 12 Virgin Trains responded to Paul rowlands close 14:41 11 Jan 2012
     

    Dear Mr Rowlands,

    Thank you very much for your correspondence concerning your
    journey between Manchester Piccadilly and Wilmslow on 18
    December 2011. I am sorry for the delay to our response.

    The ticket you bought states that the ticket is only valid on
    Virgin Trains Only. The Self Service Ticket Machine offers a
    wide range of fares including Any Permitted, which would have
    been the appropriate fare for your subsequent journey with
    Arriva Trains Wales.

    The Self Service Ticket Machine states the fares terms and
    conditions and the departure screens clearly state which company
    is providing the service. Any customer who does travel on an
    Arriva Trains Wales service with a Virgin Trains Only ticket
    will be asked to pay the appropriate fare for the journey
    in-line with Arriva Trains Wales onboard sales policy.

    We can not refund the additional ticket cost, however, as a
    gesture of goodwill we can offer a refund of the unused Virgin
    Trains Only tickets on this occasion. I would require that you
    send the original unused train tickets to the following address
    quoting your reference number 4-2083420. Please also provide
    your postal address to enable us to reply in full:

    Virgin Trains

    Customer Relations

    Freepost BM 6613

    PO Box 713

    Birmingham

    B5 4HH

    Thank you for your time and my apologies for any inconvenience caused
    as a result of the delay to your claim.

    Yours sincerely

    Michael Gartland

    Customer Relations

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  • 13 Paul rowlands wrote to Virgin Trains close 22:28 11 Jan 2012

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for your response. It has come as a pleasant suprise given the previous response from Arriva Trains Wales, which pretty much stated I need to seek help when buying a ticket from a machine. The truth is, I used the Virgin self service machine as it was familiar, available and fast. I had absolutely no idea the tickets from this machine were not valid on all journeys, in all instances - a salutory lesson learnt.

    For the record this is something of a concern. I am a fairly switched on person who travels regularly, and if I can fall foul of this disconnect in the system, I genuinely feel for the more vunerable passenger, who, like me, buys a ticket in good faith, only to be caught out.

    Unfortunately, I had assumed this whole episode had been resolved to my dissatisfaction, and had made a point of avoiding Arriva Trains Wales in the future. I've therefore destroyed the 'unused' tickets we purchased. If you feel you would be prepared to extend an element of trust and allow me to claim 2 offpeak singles from Manchester to Wilmslow without a supporting ticket I'd be most grateful. If, as I suspect, this cannot be done, would you consider donating the money to a charity? I'm not that precious over a couple of pounds - this is purely about the principle.

    You have restored a little faith in Virgin, however could I ask that you look at the automated ticketing machines, and make them a little more "passenger proof"?

    Best regards

    Paul Rowlands
    -----Original Message-----

     

     

    Dear Mr Rowlands,

     

    Thank you very much for your correspondence concerning your
    journey between Manchester Piccadilly and Wilmslow on 18
    December 2011. I am sorry for the delay to our response.

     

    The ticket you bought states that the ticket is only valid on
    Virgin Trains Only. The Self Service Ticket Machine offers a
    wide range of fares including Any Permitted, which would have
    been the appropriate fare for your subsequent journey with
    Arriva Trains Wales.

     

    The Self Service Ticket Machine states the fares terms and
    conditions and the departure screens clearly state which company
    is providing the service. Any customer who does travel on an
    Arriva Trains Wales service with a Virgin Trains Only ticket
    will be asked to pay the appropriate fare for the journey
    in-line with Arriva Trains Wales onboard sales policy.

     

    We can not refund the additional ticket cost, however, as a
    gesture of goodwill we can offer a refund of the unused Virgin
    Trains Only tickets on this occasion. I would require that you
    send the original unused train tickets to the following address
    quoting your reference number 4-2083420. Please also provide
    your postal address to enable us to reply in full:

     

    Virgin Trains

    Customer Relations

    Freepost BM 6613

    PO Box 713

    Birmingham

    B5 4HH

     

    Thank you for your time and my apologies for any inconvenience caused
    as a result of the delay to your claim.

     

    Yours sincerely

     

    Michael Gartland

    Customer Relations

       

     

     

     

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  • 14 Relations, Customer responded to Paul rowlands close 22:28 11 Jan 2012
    Thank you for contacting us.

    This is an automated email acknowledgement confirming receipt of
    your email.

    We will respond again as soon as possible. However we are
    dealing with a high level of correspondence at the moment so
    this may take longer than usual.

    If your enquiry is urgent or you are due to travel in the next
    few days, please contact us on 0845 000 8000 (08:30-18:15
    Mon-Fri, 09:00-16:00 Sat, closed Sundays).

    Regards,

    Customer Relations
    Virgin Trains.

    show quoted sections

    ________________________________  
    ****************************************************************************************
    The information in this email is confidential and/or privileged
    and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is
    addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not
    read, use, copy, print or disseminate the information - please
    advise the originator immediately by reply e-mail and delete it.
    Although this email and any attachments are believed to be free
    of any virus, or any other defect which might affect any
    computer or IT system into which they are received and opened,
    it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that they
    are virus free and no responsibility is accepted by Virgin
    Trains for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt or
    use thereof.

    Any opinions expressed in this email message are those of the
    sender and do not represent those of Virgin Trains or affiliated
    Companies in any way and reliance should not be placed upon its
    contents. Unless otherwise stated this email message is not
    intended to be contractually binding. Where an Agreement exists
    between our respective companies and there is conflict between
    the contents of this email message and the Agreement then the
    terms of that Agreement shall prevail

    Thank you

    [email address]

    Virgin Trains is the trading name for West Coast Trains Limited
    (a subsidiary of Virgin Rail Group Ltd), a company registered in
    England and
    Wales (number 3007940) whose registered office is at The School
    House, 50 Brook Green. London. W6 7RR
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  • 15 Paul rowlands added an update close 22:38 11 Jan 2012

    After getting a frankly rude response from ATW, which pretty much suggested I was a bit simple for assuming an automated ticket machine was there for my convenience (apparently there are lots of signs, terms & conditions and so forth dotted around the machine that I can read while I hang aimlessly around the station, instead of getting on with my journey. Alternatively they suggest I should seek out human assistance. not sure how many of you are familiar with Manc Piccadilly on a weekend evening, but its hardly awash with 'Happy to Help' chappies in epaulettes, ready to wisk you on your way!

    Virgin responded and fair play offered to refund the original "unused" tickets we bought. Unfortunately as I had assumed the whole thing had been resolved before xmas to by dissatisfaction I had binned the offending items. I've asked them to show a little trust and refund me in any event, or if not to donate it to charity.

    Thanks all for advice, but I reckon this particular horse has been flogged senseless, which probably seems like a more preferable mode of transport at the moment!

  • 16 Paul Hollinghurst commented close 23:18 11 Jan 2012

    Paul,

    I have every sympathy for you.

    My suggestion to the rail operators to help fix this would be to make sure that every pair of stations had an off-peak single, off-peak return, anytime single and anytime return which were all valid for any operator and on any permitted (i.e. reasonable) route. These could then be listed at the top of the screen and would be simple to use.

    Lower down the screen could then be listed all the potentially cheaper tickets (e.g. operator specific, route specific, evenings only etc) but tickets listed there would alert the user to check the conditions carefully.

    At the moment it is crazy with what often seems like a random subset of fares available between each set of stations. If someone like you was travelling in a single direction at an Off-Peak time and only saw only one ticket listed with this description then why would they think to check the small print?

    The Government and the Department for Transport is really responsible for this mess as they could force a change in the fares system, but they haven't yet. Government ministers always say they want to do something about it, but again nothing happens, possibly because the franchise system makes such changes very difficult.

    Hopefully the Fair Fares campaign will help push through changes:
    http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/fairfares/

    Paul

    anorak
    admin
  • 17 Virgin Trains responded to Paul rowlands close 13:22 12 Jan 2012
     

    Dear Mr Rowlands,

    Thank you for your further e-mail correspondence received on 11
    January 2012.

    I would once again like to take this opportunity to extend my
    sincere apologies for the problems that you encountered.

    I can assure you that the FastTicket Machines do retail all
    applicable fares for the selected journey. This is a National
    Rail requirement under Impartial Retailing, as it would not be
    appropriate to limit consumer choice.

    Any Permitted and Virgin Trains Only fares would be offered for
    the journey you selected.

    I appreciate that you feel let down by your use of the
    FastTicket Machines at Manchester Piccadilly and I will ensure
    that your comments are passed on to our Retail Manager.

    I would like to assure you we try to be as flexible as possible.
    After all, our aim is to recover a customers goodwill. Strictly
    speaking a refund would not be offered in this circumstance, as
    administration cost would outweigh ticket cost.

    The refund was offered as a gesture of goodwill. I regret,
    however, that I am unable to consider a refund without the
    original unused tickets and apologise for any disappointment
    this causes you.

    Thank you for taking the time to contact our office. I hope that
    your experience will not discourage you from using our services
    in the future and that we can welcome you aboard again soon.

    Yours sincerely

    Mike Gartland

    Customer Relations

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  • 18 Dave H commented close 14:34 12 Jan 2012

    I buy from the machine regularly and the ticket selection display does qualify the tickets, although the extent of the detail can be rather commuted. My purchases often include Glasgow - Leeds where the £47.00 return fare is only valid via Appleby and via any other route the fare is over £90.00. There are likewise a range of Glasgow-London fares and several appera as off peak return with very brief eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • 19 Dave H commented close 15:03 12 Jan 2012

    Delete 18 ! answered phone and papers landed on keyboard - several fares appear as off peak return but each with a particular condition, and you really need to know yout trains to understand which is which. Biggest irony is that I can buy a Glasgow-Midlands fare for 10p less than the Glasgow-London fare but can visit London and then Midlands with the London ticket - 200 miles for 10p!

  • 20 Paul Hollinghurst commented close 19:06 12 Jan 2012

    Paul,
    If you are ever in a postion to photograph the screen from the ticket machine then I would appreciate if you could let me have a copy (one option would be to add it to this campaign).
    Thanks,
    Paul (FixMyTransport Volunteer)

    anorak
    admin
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  • started 18 December 2011
  • supporters 3
Train route between Manchester Piccadilly and Wilmslow
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