Rail class row now spreads to first
PUBLISHED: 10:09 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010
AN IRATE First Capital Connect passenger is trying to get a refund — because he had paid to travel first class and most other people in the carriage had not. Ari Sperling of Bricket Wood has been fighting since May for the refund but without success. He i
AN IRATE First Capital Connect passenger is trying to get a refund - because he had paid to travel first class and most other people in the carriage had not.
Ari Sperling of Bricket Wood has been fighting since May for the refund but without success.
He is not a regular first-class traveller but decided to buy two first-class tickets with FCC in May when he and his wife had come back tired after their flight to Luton was cancelled and they were diverted instead to Gatwick.
They were looking for privacy and peace on their journey home and paid £48 each for their first-class tickets. The carriage was empty when they first got on at Gatwick but once the train pulled into St Pancras at the peak of the evening rush hour, passengers rushed into the carriage.
Ari said: "When we got to St Pancras it was like a herd getting on. Doors were flung open and no-one was checking tickets."
People he spoke to in the carriage said they used the first-class carriage without paying because there was never any room on the trains.
And Ari is sympathetic to their plight, pointing out that peak-hour trains are invariably only four carriages and the first-class carriage is the same as standard class other than a different door.
He has written to FCC managing director Elaine Holt to get a refund of the portion of first class than he paid over and above the standard fare.
He told her about the crowded train and non-paying passengers but she replied that it did not happen on FCC trains and everyone in first class paid.
Ari said: "She did send me a travel voucher for £20 which I sent back. I didn't get the service I paid for."
FCC passengers have long maintained that first-class carriages should be abolished on overcrowded peak-hour trains on the Thameslink line.
In the last two weeks the Herts Advertiser has highlighted three cases of women who have been fined or threatened with prosecution for using first class with standard tickets - one of whom was five-months pregnant.
FCC maintain that they received strong representation from customers who hold first-class tickets and expected the status of the carriage to be maintained.