Are FCC's first class passengers being taken for a ride?

PUBLISHED: 19:00 04 June 2010

First Capital Connect train

First Capital Connect train

Archant

RAIL operator First Capital Connect (FCC) which runs the Thameslink service has been accused of selling first-class tickets for services with no matching first-class facilities by a consumer watchdog.

Consumer magazine Which? claims FCC is charging as much as 63 per cent more for single first-class fares between Luton Parkway station and Wimbledon in south west London.

Although the trains had first class carriages they had been declassified and made available to standard ticket bearers, according to Which?

Which? editor Martyn Hocking said: ‘Rail companies need to stop taking passengers for a ride and only sell first-class tickets if they can offer a first-class service.’

FCC maintained its customers could travel first-class for parts of the journey but Which? found that to do so involved getting off the train at St Pancras, walking to the Underground and taking a 12-minute Tube ride to Vauxhall then getting back on the train again. The magazine claimed that would incur an extra charge of £4.

FCC charges £13.40 for a standard fare from Luton Parkway to Wimbledon and £21.40 first class for the same journey, even though the direct line has no exclusive first-class service according to Which?

But FCC claims there are several inaccuracies in the Which? report which they will be taking up with them.

A spokesperson maintained there were some direct services which offered first-class services but sometimes they were provided on indirect services: “If customers use indirect services they are not charged extra for the Tube which is included in the original ticket price. All services with or without first class are detailed in the timetable.”

n FCC has reassured passengers that new trains on order for the Thameslink line have not been scrapped. A BBC radio programme this week suggested that the Government has cut the order for the new trains.

An FCC spokesman said: “It appears that the Radio 4 consumer programme You and Yours confused the Thameslink new trains order with a general statement made by the Department for Transport about the pause this financial year on placing new train orders for other projects.

“As a result some people are saying the government has cut the order for the new Thameslink trains. This is simply not true; a contract for the new trains is still due to be signed by the end of the year and we should know who the successful manufacturer is set to be this summer.”

The £5.5bn Thameslink Programme has already delivered 23 new trains and almost 5,000 extra seats per day in the peak, with new journeys from Kent and south London across the capital.

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