Transport User Voice – Case study

30 June 2017

Mrs B went to purchase tickets from the Wivenhoe ticket office. She asked the clerk what the cheapest way to Leicester and back would be and was issued with two Anytime Return tickets costing £210 each.

She later discovered that her journey would have been cheaper had she purchased a combination of tickets: a Peak ticket to London St Pancras and then an Off-Peak return ticket from St Pancras to Leicester. Mrs B was unhappy once she realised she could have saved a significant amount of money for her journey. She complained to Greater Anglia, however her claim for compensation was declined. This is when she contacted Transport Focus for help.

We explained to Mrs B that the practice of purchasing multiple tickets for a single journey to obtain a lower fare is known as ‘split-ticketing’. In order for these tickets to be valid, the train must stop at the stations which the tickets have been bought for. If the train involved stops at several stations then there can be a huge combination of available fares. Usually rail staff do not sell split tickets, unless specifically requested to do so by passengers.

We got in touch with Greater Anglia and confirmed that at the time of purchase, staff offered the most appropriate through journey for immediate travel, which is the ticket office’s staff role. They must provide details for the next available through journey unless specifically requested to provide for another service. As Mrs B was travelling outbound at Peak time the anytime Peak ticket was the most appropriate through journey.

Despite the staff member acting correctly, Greater Anglia agreed to offer Mrs B compensation as a one off gesture of goodwill if she could confirm details of her journey. As she said she travelled back from London to Wivenhoe on an Off-Peak service Greater Anglia sent her £179 in Rail Travel Vouchers. This was the difference between an Anytime return and an Off-Peak return which was an extremely generous offer and demonstrated excellent customer service.

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