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Transport User Voice – December 2019 – Case study

28 November 2019

Did First Class live up to its promise?

Mr G holds a First Class season ticket and normally travels between Meadowhall and Manchester Piccadilly with TransPennine Express (TPE).  The services he travels on should be six carriages. However, for the past six months, the trains have been short-formed and overcrowded.  

Mr G also notes that First class is frequently full, he is unable to reserve a seat and the catering trolley either cannot board or cannot serve passengers as it is not safe due to the level of overcrowding. Mr G had been advised that the service will remain like this until the end of the year when new trains will be brought into service in 2020.  

Transport Focus contacted TPE on Mr G’s behalf to find out why these issues were occurring on such a consistent basis and what was being done to improve the service for passengers. We also requested that TPE refund Mr G the difference in price between his First Class season ticket and a standard class ticket for the same journey (£300).  

TPE confirmed that the two services mentioned by Mr G are currently the only two services that run short-formed due to rolling stock shortages. However, it did also state there has been an improvement, with the trains consistently being a six-carriage set over the last two months and that this should continue to improve as more of the new fleet comes into service. 

Based on the fact the trains have been regularly short-formed TPE was happy to offer £300 reimbursement to Mr G in the form of National Rail Travel Vouchers that could be used towards next year’s season ticket, which Mr G was happy to receive.  

In relation to the lack of trolley service, the only necessary feature is that the First Class carriage is clearly marked to distinguish between First Class and Standard Class. Anything above this is discretionary which means there is no statutory obligation for operators to offer more than this. 

We understand that First Class differs across operators and that it is each train company’s individual decision what services are offered over and above the minimum requirement (wider seats and lighting). However, given the consistent lack of service available to Mr G, we did feel it appropriate that a goodwill gesture be offered. 

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