Suffolk: Rail fare scandal taken to Westminster

SCANDALOUS fare structures leading to thousands of people being ripped off are today being reviewed after The Star’s quest for fairness was taken straight to the heart of Westminster.

Confusing pricing has led to rail passengers spending more money than needed.

Backing the campaign calling for more straightforward pricing, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer yesterday presented secretary of state for transport, Justine Greening, with The Star’s front page calling on the government to take action.

He told the Star: “I presented the secretary of state with The Star’s front page and she told me she is well aware of the problem and has already asked for a review to see where differential pricing is happening and what can be done about it.

“She did stress it is enormously complicated due to the old ticketing system in place for the last 50 years or so.

“We are never going to get it perfect but this is ludicrous. Split tickets cause real irritation with passengers because they don’t know if they are getting the best deal. It is not a transparent system.”

But he warned any action must prevent train companies hiking prices by removing the option to buy split tickets.

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“I am confident that the government are looking at it, let’s see if what that review reports back to the secretary of state,” he added. “She certainly understood why it is annoying and was keen to see why it is happening in a bid to see what we can do about it.”

Former member of Rail Passengers Committee for Eastern England, Barry Moore, of Claydon, wrote to the Star revealing his outrage and backing the paper’s campaign.

He said: “Our Byzantine rail fare structure is in dire need of national overhaul.

“We regularly travel to Leicester (amongst other places) but never buy a through ticket – re-booking at Peterborough makes it much cheaper.

“Last year we travelled to Porthmadog in North Wales; the cheapest fares by far were to re-book at Peterborough and Birmingham. This is a nonsense; it is alright for people ‘in the know’ but for the new or occasional rail user, especially finding out afterward, it is a deterrent.

“Ticket office staff recognise this and the excellent staff at Ipswich and Stowmarket stations are always helpful – but it’s up to you, the customer, to ask.”

Mr Moore called for a reform of the ticket price structure, urging the government to set fares nationally to eliminate the anomaly of the ‘split’ ticket fiasco.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Greater Anglia said: “Train operators have significantly increased the numbers of low cost advance tickets over recent years and these have become increasingly popular.

“Where a passenger asks for separate tickets for a specific journey we will always try to comply with their request in line with the conditions that apply.”

n What do you think? Have you been affected? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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