Anger over First Capital Connect ‘jobsworth’

PUBLISHED: 12:20 16 February 2013

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Archant

AN over-zealous First Capital Connect (FCC) employee prevented two friends meeting for lunch in Harpenden because one of them had broken his journey to Luton Parkway to stop off in the town.

John Lough of Redbourn hit out at the operators of the Thameslink line after his plan to meet a Lithuanian friend in Harpenden was thwarted.

His friend was travelling on a paper ticket that he had bought on the plane and was on his way back to Luton Airport when he tried to stop off at Harpenden.

He was told that he could not get out of the station without payment of a penalty fare although his ticket to Luton Parkway was valid.

An FCC staff member told him that he could not break his journey at Harpenden and he would have to pay a £20 penalty fare to get through the barriers at the town station.

Mr Lough’s friend was told that his ticket was a discounted fare – £21 from Luton Airport Parkway to London – and that no break of journey was permitted, even for an estimated period of one and a half hours.

Mr Lough said: “I explained that I was prepared if necessary to buy another ticket for my friend from Harpenden to Luton Airport Parkway and pleaded for application of the rule of common sense.”

But he was told that his friend had a “point to point” ticket and could not break his journey.

Mr Lough went on: “My appeals fell on deaf ears and I ended up having to buy a return ticket to Luton Airport Parkway to take my friend to lunch.”

Speaking to staff at Luton Parkway and later at St Pancras, he was told that the FCC official at Harpenden had been over-zealous in applying a rule that might not even exist.

And he pointed out that his friend had actually started his journey from West Hampstead not St Pancras and had been able to pass through the barrier there without a problem .

Mr Lough added: “This sort of pettiness and arbitrary enforcement of rules are part of a Kafkaesque world invented by our train companies. FCC would do well to to put an end to these ridiculous practices.”

A spokesman for FCC confirmed that the rules stated that passengers with such a ticket were not allowed a break of journey.

But he went on: “However as the customer was prepared to purchase an additional ticket between Harpenden and Luton Airport, the member of staff should have used their discretion in dealing with this passenger, which is what they are advised to do.

“We will be following this up with the member of staff.”

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