FCC closes rail fare loophole after sued by St Albans commuter

St Albans Crown and County Courts

St Albans Crown and County Courts - Credit: Archant

First Capital Connect (FCC) has moved swiftly to remove a loophole in rail fares after a St Albans man successfully sued the company for over £2,000 after discovering he was paying a “shed-load” too much.

Commuter Andrew Myers, a solicitor who travels to London, told Judge John Matthews at the St Albans County Court last Friday (27) that passengers travelling from the city station have been paying £700 too much for a season ticket.

Legal representatives for FCC had offered to settle the small claims dispute out of court on a non-disclosure basis but Mr Myers said he wanted the case publicised as the company enjoyed a “privileged position” and it was a matter of public importance.

Andrew Trimble, barrister for FCC, said: “An offer was made but that was rejected by the claimant to have his day in court. This [court case] didn’t need to happen.”

However the judge allowed local media to attend the case, saying, “the claimant is entitled to have a hearing.”

Mr Myers explained that when searching online for a ticket for zones one to six last year he discovered tickets from Watford North were £700 less and could be used via and from St Albans.

When he purchased the ticket through FCC in November, the season tickets were £3,800 for travel from St Albans but £3,068 from Watford North, even though either could be used via St Albans.

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However Mr Myers was later challenged by a FCC official, who said he had to buy a separate ticket.

He issued proceedings against the company and using a data protection notice, obtained correspondence to and from FCC’s parent company First Group which said the loophole must be closed immediately as “the financial implications are massive”.

Mr Matthews agreed to the claim which, including court fees and litigation costs, amounted to £2,193.96.

Following the case Roger Perkins for FCC said: “Mr Myers uncovered a previously unknown historic routing guide error that harks back to the days of British Rail.

Tickets from Watford North should be valid only via Watford Junction to Euston, not via St Albans, which is a six mile, 14 minute detour north east away from London followed by a 20 minute walk across town between St Albans Abbey and St Albans City to take one of our services into St Pancras International. The Association of Train Operating Companies has now closed this loophole on our behalf.”