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Case studies

Transport Focus deals with over 2600 appeal complaints each year. Read more about some of the times we have been able to help passengers successfully resolve their case.

Click here to see some older case studies.

Mr H arrived at East Boldon station ten minutes before his journey to Newcastle with Tyne and Wear Metro and tried to purchase a ticket from the station ticket vending machine.

Each time he attempted to buy a ticket, the machine cancelled Mr H’s transaction. Aware that he could be fined for travelling without a ticket, Mr H filmed his third attempt to purchase a ticket and then boarded the train he had planned to take in order to make his connection at Newcastle.

When he arrived at Newcastle, Mr H approached staff to purchase a ticket and was issued with a Penalty Fare Notice.

After Mr H’s appeal with Tyne and Wear Metro was declined, he contacted Transport Focus and we approached Tyne and Wear Metro on his behalf.

After reviewing the footage Mr H had taken of the machine not working and our appeal on his behalf, Tyne and Wear Metro agreed to waive the Penalty Fare Notice and refund the £20 already paid.

Miss H and her friend travelled from Gipsy Hill to Winchester. They are both in full-time education and hold 16+ Zip Oyster photocards which allow them to buy child-rate tickets within the London zones.

At the Gipsy Hill ticket office, operated by Southern, they were sold child tickets for the whole journey to Winchester after showing their 16+ Zip Oyster photocards.

When they arrived at Winchester, operated by South West Trains (SWT), they were correctly told that they should have been holding adult tickets and were charged a Penalty Fare.

Miss H and her friend then appealed without success to the Independent Appeals Service, before coming to Transport Focus for help.

We explained to SWT that we thought the Penalty Fares had been issued without considering what the passengers had been told by Southern staff at Gipsy Hill. We asked SWT to reconsider this case, which it did.

As a gesture of goodwill SWT agreed to refund the Penalty Fares and additional charges of £91, even though another train company had incorrectly sold the tickets.

Miss H and her friend were very pleased with this result.

Mrs D’s son was due to travel on 24 October on the 7.30pm train from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads. He was travelling to a family wedding and was booked into a room at a local hotel. Unfortunately, all trains were cancelled due to a fatality on the line. He had a ticket refund, but Mrs D contacted us as she had had to pay for the hotel room which her son had been unable to use. She wanted a refund of £60.

When the train was cancelled, Mrs D’s son was told that the line was closed and there would be no onward services. No other options were given for him to get to Bristol Temple Meads. Staff couldn’t advise if he’d be able to get a later service so he had no choice but to abandon the journey.

Train companies do not offer compensation as a matter of course under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage for this type of situation, which they term consequential loss, but will consider claims in exceptional circumstances. We felt that he had no way of getting to the hotel to use the room and was advised that the line was closed until further notice. We asked the train company, First Great Western (FGW) to reconsider refunding the hotel costs.

FGW explained that staff wouldn’t have given an indication of when the next service would run as far as Bristol because it would be impossible to know. The disruption was due to a fatality and the line had been closed by the police. Any estimate might have provided false hope. However, FGW appreciated the frustration that Mrs D had paid for an unused hotel room and so it covered the full cost of £60 as a gesture of goodwill.

Mrs D was very pleased with the outcome.

Mrs L purchased an Advance ticket to travel with CrossCountry from Bristol Parkway to Darlington. She attempted to park at the station but was delayed as refurbishment work was being carried out, reducing the number of available parking bays. She was then further delayed when another passenger had problems getting a parking ticket from the car park machine. All of which meant she missed her train and had to purchase another train ticket.

She complained to First Great Western (FGW) which manages Bristol Parkway station and car park. She asked for £82 to cover the cost of the replacement ticket as she felt there was a lack of communication regarding the restricted parking. FGW offered £20 worth of rail travel vouchers, but Mrs L was not satisfied with this and contacted Transport Focus (then Passenger Focus).

We contacted FGW on Mrs L’s behalf and asked it to review its offer. It explained that it had issued warnings both prior to, and during refurbishment work. This included a dedicated webpage with details of an additional car park alongside the station that passengers could use during the works. It also issued media releases and had clear signage at the station. However, it recognised the difficulties of the reduced number of spaces and had asked station staff to allow travel on the next train where an Advance ticket service was missed. Unfortunately, FGW couldn’t make sure that other operators would match this arrangement.

FGW agreed that the £20 rail voucher was not a suitable gesture and offered a cheque for £82 to cover the cost of the additional ticket.

Mrs B bought a season ticket from First Capital Connect (FCC) which included two complimentary tickets. As in previous years she requested these tickets online.

After allowing more time than usual for the complimentary tickets to arrive, Mrs B contacted FCC to complain. Apart from an automatic email response, Mrs B didn’t receive a reply. When FCC’s deadline for replying passed, she contacted Transport Focus.

During the delay in processing Mrs B’s complimentary tickets FCC had changed over to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which was unwilling to honour the offer.

We felt it was unacceptable that Mrs B’s issue and complaint had been dealt with so poorly. We discussed with GTR the importance of taking ownership of outstanding FCC complaints, which it had previously agreed with us to do.

After our involvement, GTR agreed to send £40 in rail travel vouchers as a gesture of goodwill. We had four similar cases and were able to agree suitable outcomes for each of them.

Ms V, a European Union (EU) national who lives in the UK, booked a ‘print at home’ ticket with Greater Anglia. One of the conditions of ‘print at home’ tickets is that the holder can prove his or her identity by a specified document, such as a passport or driving licence.

Ms V realised that as a form of identification, her national ID card was not valid, even though it allowed her to travel internationally within the EU. Greater Anglia said this was a national issue. The EU ID couldn’t be accepted and this decision was out of their hands. Ms V felt this was very unfair.

Ms V contacted Transport Focus and we found that as EU ID cards can be used to enter the UK from EU member states we could see no reason, nor were we aware of any national policy, which would prevent the use of this card as a form of ID.

We raised this with the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), the rail industry’s trade body. As a result, ATOC has confirmed that EU ID cards will now be accepted as formal identification with ‘print at home’ tickets and has added them to the ‘accepted document’ list.

This is a great result for passengers and demonstrates how passenger complaints can contribute to policy changes in the rail industry.

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