Computer glitch wipes out discount on TransWilts rail tickets

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Rail campaigner Graham Ellis, left, with MP Duncan Hames at the launch of the expanded TransWilts service on December 9 Rail campaigner Graham Ellis, left, with MP Duncan Hames at the launch of the expanded TransWilts service on December 9

A computer glitch that increased train fares a month after a much-heralded expanded rail service was introduced has caused anger this week.

The Gazette's sister paper, the Wiltshire Times, has been contacted by commuters who had to pay the full fare on the new TransWilts line from Westbury to Swindon yesterday, despite assurances it would be available at a reduced rate.

When the number of trains on the cross-county service was expanded on December 9 provision was made for reduced fares for trains via Melksham, rather than Bath, but a national computer error this week has removed this discount.

One passenger who got in touch said: “After all the recent news articles published about how great the new TransWilts train service between Westbury and Swindon is, and about how a ticket via Melksham is cheaper, it was disappointing to have to pay the full fare.

“Most disappointing was a passenger who was trying the train as alternative to the car for the first time. When faced with having to pay double the amount for his ticket than when he checked the previous night he was obviously annoyed and plans 'never to attempt to use trains again'.”

The issue is being investigated, with a solution expected by the end of the week.

Graham Ellis, chairman of the TransWilts Community Partnership, said: “The reduced fare was introduced with great fanfare on December 9, and the intention is it is permanent.

“Unfortunately the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to change the algorithms for the way the fare rises work for the new year, so they dropped out of the system two or three days ago.

“They are being put back in as we speak, but that requires a sign-off from the Department of Transport, which I would imagine would happen in a matter of days.

“It caught First by surprise yesterday and it’s being worked on as quickly as possible. I have had assurances if anybody buys the tickets at the old prices and keeps their stubs they can claim back for the reduced price.

“Anyone affected can contact me at the rail partnership. We are purely volunteers but we know the right people to talk to. We have the contacts and we are being kept fully informed.”

For further details about the fare problem email info@twcrp.org.uk

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12:03pm Thu 9 Jan 14

grahame says...

Update (From Graham Ellis, Quoted above) - First staff now have management instructions to override fares and sell the direct (lower) fares as required with immediate effect. It's a very unfortunate teething problem which came about because the government changed the fare increase rule at the time the new fares were being put in (in November) and the new ones didn't get carried forward. I too would have been upset to be asked for 71 pounds rather than 39 for a one week season ... problem should now be sorted, and get in touch with First or via me if you have overpaid. New users - PLEASE give it another go. Teething problems get cured and it's not very fair to judge on just one day!

P.S. I'm "Press and Publicity" not Chair ;-)
Update (From Graham Ellis, Quoted above) - First staff now have management instructions to override fares and sell the direct (lower) fares as required with immediate effect. It's a very unfortunate teething problem which came about because the government changed the fare increase rule at the time the new fares were being put in (in November) and the new ones didn't get carried forward. I too would have been upset to be asked for 71 pounds rather than 39 for a one week season ... problem should now be sorted, and get in touch with First or via me if you have overpaid. New users - PLEASE give it another go. Teething problems get cured and it's not very fair to judge on just one day! P.S. I'm "Press and Publicity" not Chair ;-) grahame
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