Anger at rail passengers’ ticket cost rise

Passengers travelling on the West Coast Main Line face increased costs after rail fare changes by Virgin Rail
Passengers travelling on the West Coast Main Line face increased costs after rail fare changes by Virgin Rail

Rail campaigners say passengers will be left out of pocket when new price rises introduced by Virgin Rail start next month.

Rail passengers using the West Coast Main Line will no longer able to buy off-peak, railcard discounted tickets for use on peak-time trains.

Virgin Rail said the move is to help simplify fares and bring the company in line with other rail operators, but some users face a huge increase in costs from September 6.

Transport Focus, an independent transport watchdog, said an anytime return ticket between London and Manchester currently costs £329 but the journey is available to railcard holders at £53.85.

If the discount is removed, the passenger could pay more than six times the price for the same journey.

David Sidebottom, Transport Focus’s passenger director said: “Passengers tell us that getting better value for money is one of their top priorities. Currently almost six in 10 passengers on this route are happy with the value for money of their ticket – with more than three quarters of railcard holders satisfied. We can expect to see a drop in passenger satisfaction.

“If Virgin continues with this plan to remove the discount then they need to do more to contact affected passengers and communicate the changes clearly to avoid unpleasant surprises at the ticket machine.”

Stephen Brookes, chairman of the Blackpool Passenger Users’ Panel, added: “This will impact on older and disabled people travelling to and from Blackpool.

“Fares before 9am will go up from £55 return to London to around £200.”