Collective competition claim against Govia Thameslink Railway

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furlong

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This press release hit the newswires yesterday:

COLLECTIVE COMPETITION CLAIM AGAINST GOVIA THAMESLINK RAILWAY FOR OVERCHARGING RAIL PASSENGERS ON BRIGHTON MAINLINE SINCE OCTOBER 2015

London 6 July 2021 – An application to commence an opt-out collective action (“Claim”) was launched in the Competition Appeal Tribunal against Govia Thameslink Railway Limited (“GTR”) and its parent companies, The Go-Ahead Group Plc and Keolis (UK) Ltd.

The Claim alleges that GTR is infringing UK competition rules by issuing fares restricting travel to Southern and/or Thameslink train brands on the London-Brighton mainline and then inflating the prices passengers must pay for fares allowing travel on two or all three GTR train brands (Gatwick Express, Southern and Thameslink). The Claim also alleges that GTR unlawfully inflates fares where passengers use Oyster or contactless payment facilities to tap in or tap out at London Victoria platforms 13 and 14 (including passengers who start or finish travel at GTR stations north of London).

The Claim states that the fare-setting regulatory regime does not entitle GTR to issue fares limited to only Southern and/or Thameslink train brands (except for advance fares) but requires GTR’s fares to permit travel on all three brands. Moreover, by charging higher prices for fares permitting travel on two or all three GTR train brands, GTR is abusing its dominant position in the market for rail services on the London-Brighton mainline in breach of Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998.

The Claim includes rail passengers who are domiciled in the United Kingdom and who after 30 September 2015: (i) purchased Any Permitted fares except where a fare was for travel exclusively within the Travelcard Zones; (ii) purchased Not Gatwick Express fares except where a fare was for travel exclusively within the Travelcard Zones; (iii) tapped in or out at London Victoria platforms 13 and 14; and/or (iv) were required to pay for penalty or excess fares on a GTR train brand excluded by the fare actually purchased. Anyone domiciled outside the United Kingdom who purchased any of these fares may choose to be included in the Claim.

Preliminary indications show that millions of passenger journeys will have been affected by the alleged unlawful conduct on the part of GTR.

Two seasoned rail campaigners Edward Vermeer and David Boyle seek to represent the class of passengers who have suffered damages arising from the Claim.

Messrs. Vermeer and Boyle have instructed Maitland Walker LLP, a law firm with offices in London, Taunton and Minehead. The Maitland Walker team includes solicitors Julian Maitland- Walker and Adrian Render. Mr. Maitland-Walker is a leading competition practitioner with over 40 years in competition practice. Mr. Render is one of the few UK competition lawyers to have experience of opt-out collective action cases, having worked on U.S. Federal Multidistrict Litigation on a number of consumer cartel damages recovery and monopolisation opt-out actions.

Maitland Walker LLP has engaged Charles Hollander QC of Brick Court Chambers and David Went of Exchange Chambers to act as barristers for the Claim.

This legal action is being funded by LCM Funding UK Limited, a highly experienced third-party litigation funder, and insurance is in place to cover adverse fees or costs.

To learn more or for updates, visit the dedicated GTR Claim website at www.gtrclaim.co.uk or the Competition Appeals Tribunal website at www.catribunal.org.uk.

Source: Maitland Walker LLP, Charles Hollander QC and David Went
Media Contact: Joseph Siman at 07512 067530
 
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Tazi Hupefi

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This is going to be a difficult and highly technical case, which appears to focus on whether the fares system allows a private company to set their own fares or revenue strategies by brand. I suspect that this case may have a large number of unintended effects, as Govia will almost certainly raise issues around the lawfulness and validity of a fares system which constrains them from being able to offer 'better value' fares. Which will be a second key point. They will clearly seek to argue that they are actually trying to improve the range of fares available by being able to offer cheaper fares on certain services, and no doubt will claim that should the judgement go against them, it will result in higher fares, as they align all of the fares.
 

AlterEgo

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As always, be careful what you wish for. This forum had a predilection for some time for using "Southern Only" tickets on Gatwick Express. The logical endpoint of claiming GTR cannot enforce cheaper tickets by sub-brand is the loss of the cheaper fares, and a levelling up of fares to deliver poorer value to the people who use the train most (I genuinely could not care less about GX being a rip off, it's an airport train which tourists make a beeline for...it is what it is).

This sort of militant parsimony coupled with an aggressive desire to use the rules in the most permissive way only has negative consequences.
 

WesternLancer

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As always, be careful what you wish for. This forum had a predilection for some time for using "Southern Only" tickets on Gatwick Express. The logical endpoint of claiming GTR cannot enforce cheaper tickets by sub-brand is the loss of the cheaper fares, and a levelling up of fares to deliver poorer value to the people who use the train most (I genuinely could not care less about GX being a rip off, it's an airport train which tourists make a beeline for...it is what it is).

This sort of militant parsimony coupled with an aggressive desire to use the rules in the most permissive way only has negative consequences.
I fear you are right - but the current system is crazy complex on the Brighton Line.

I was just looking at a fare Lewes - London Bridge single. I see what was once branded 'Southern Price Buster' is there as a Super Off Peak and says on BRFares route 'not gatwick express'. Does this mean I can also now use it on Thameslink branded services. I assume it does, but presumably not a Gatwick Express branded train departing Brighton - even though when Price Buster fares were started I don't think GatEx served the Brighton Line south of Gatwick (IIRC). This is complex even for me who is forum watcher on fares stuff, and definitely not what the public want in my view.
 

AlterEgo

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I fear you are right - but the current system is crazy complex on the Brighton Line.

I was just looking at a fare Lewes - London Bridge single. I see what was once branded 'Southern Price Buster' is there as a Super Off Peak and says on BRFares route 'not gatwick express'. Does this mean I can also now use it on Thameslink branded services. I assume it does, but presumably not a Gatwick Express branded train departing Brighton - even though when Price Buster fares were started I don't think GatEx served the Brighton Line south of Gatwick (IIRC). This is complex even for me who is forum watcher on fares stuff, and definitely not what the public want in my view.
The BML is absolutely mad and a basket case for complex fares as you say. I am not sure how many (if any?) of the affected sub-brand fares are regulated fares - this may be key. I suspect it's none - am I right?
 

mmh

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I fear you are right - but the current system is crazy complex on the Brighton Line.

I was just looking at a fare Lewes - London Bridge single. I see what was once branded 'Southern Price Buster' is there as a Super Off Peak and says on BRFares route 'not gatwick express'. Does this mean I can also now use it on Thameslink branded services. I assume it does, but presumably not a Gatwick Express branded train departing Brighton - even though when Price Buster fares were started I don't think GatEx served the Brighton Line south of Gatwick (IIRC). This is complex even for me who is forum watcher on fares stuff, and definitely not what the public want in my view.

I believe "not Gatwick Express" tickets are accepted on Gatwick Express trains from/to stations south of Gatwick as the Gatwick Express train becomes not a Gatwick Express train despite also being a Gatwick Express train. The fares on the BML are utterly crazy and do need fixing, but sadly I'm not holding my breath that this action will have a positive effect!
 

yorkie

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I don't see how this will make any difference to fares on the Brighton Main Line.

It was already decided long ago that "fares harmonisation" would take place, as has been reported many times on this forum.

Nevertheless, a speculative thread has been set up for people to debate what might happen to fares on this route; please use the following thread to debate that further: What could happen to GTR fares on the Brighton-London line if the collective competition claim succeeds?

As that's already covered elsewhere, I suggest this thread be used to discuss the actual case and the legality of what GTR are doing.

I believe "not Gatwick Express" tickets are accepted on Gatwick Express trains from/to stations south of Gatwick as the Gatwick Express train becomes not a Gatwick Express train despite also being a Gatwick Express train. The fares on the BML are utterly crazy and do need fixing, but sadly I'm not holding my breath that this action will have a positive effect!
As far as I can tell, the position of GTR is that any train that is branded as a Gatwick Express train retains the brand for the duration of its journey and that is what the fares data says.

But if anyone has any policy documents or any evidence of staff stating that it is policy to treat a Gatwick Express branded train as a different brand south of Gatwick, it would be most interesting to read any such evidence.

The BML is absolutely mad and a basket case for complex fares as you say. I am not sure how many (if any?) of the affected sub-brand fares are regulated fares - this may be key. I suspect it's none - am I right?
The fares in question were created as TOC-specific fares in line with the Ticketing Settlement Agreement (TSA) by the former companies which are now defunct. Such fares have never been regulated fares.

In the case of GTR, these fares appear to be treated as de-facto 'brand' specific fares, which is very odd as there is no provision for this in the TSA.

This is going to be a difficult and highly technical case, which appears to focus on whether the fares system allows a private company to set their own fares or revenue strategies by brand.
There is no provision in the TSA for fares to be set by brand. No other train company has attempted to do this.

I suspect that this case may have a large number of unintended effects, as Govia will almost certainly raise issues around the lawfulness and validity of a fares system which constrains them from being able to offer 'better value' fares.
There is nothing to stop train companies offering "better value fares"; many train companies do this in a manner that is totally consistent with the TSA.

Which will be a second key point. They will clearly seek to argue that they are actually trying to improve the range of fares available by being able to offer cheaper fares on certain services
A franchise commitment is indeed to do exactly that, through the use of Advance fares. There are also a wide range of other fare types, such as Super Off Peak which are in use by GTR which also ensure cheaper fares can be used at certain times. This is consistent with other train companies.

There is nothing stopping GTR offering good value fares; they just need to do so in a manner that is consistent with all other train companies.

and no doubt will claim that should the judgement go against them, it will result in higher fares, as they align all of the fares.
The fares have been in the process of being 'aligned' for many years now, though the process appears to be stalled, all the available evidence suggests that this alignment is still a franchise commitment, is still scheduled to take place, but appears to have been delayed, which has created a situation in which GTR have been unlawfully and knowingly overcharging people for several years now.

Any speculation in terms of how fares alignment may happen can be discussed in the thread titled What could happen to GTR fares on the Brighton-London line if the collective competition claim succeeds?
 
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Tazi Hupefi

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I personally think that the fares policy (TSA?) will be found to be (or considered) unlawful itself or at least elements of it. The other thing to note is that formal policies, documents, agreements etc can evolve over time, even without updates to wording.

I suspect that the DfT will support Govia with this - because clearly, the government cannot think it is unlawful, if they are writing requirements to remove these fares [at a future, undefined date] into franchise agreements, instead of prohibiting them or issuing any sort of enforcement notices.
 

WesternLancer

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The BML is absolutely mad and a basket case for complex fares as you say. I am not sure how many (if any?) of the affected sub-brand fares are regulated fares - this may be key. I suspect it's none - am I right?
Not sure / have given up the will to find out it's so complex, but you could be right. Yorkie makes good points in subsequent post.
 

jumble

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This press release hit the newswires yesterday:
Is any of this relevant going forward as my understanding is that the Gatwick Express is suspended for the foreseeable future ?
I did a mystery shop on the barriers earlier in the year and was told not to touch in and sent to touch in elsewhere
 
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yorkie

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Is any of this relevant going forward as my understanding is that the Gatwick Express is suspended for the foreseeable future ?
I did a mystery shop on the barriers earlier in the year and was told not to touch in and sent to touch in elsewhere
Yes; GTR still reject Thameslink Only fares on their Southern branded trains and vice versa.
 

Cdd89

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Even if we accept that rail companies should be allowed to differentiate prices within their own brands (without being a route based alternative ticket) — which is far from obvious, considering the competition implications: the restriction was created to allow companies to compete with each other, not to allow a single company even more opportunity to segment the market — “Thameslink” is a sufficiently vague term that a reasonable traveller would not know whether it refers to TL branded trains, or GTR operated trains. Rail companies are not typically forgiving of passenger mistakes (even honest ones), which is OK, but in that case there should be absolutely no ambiguity in the other direction.
 

furlong

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We'll need to wait until they publish their submissions to consider how deeply grounded in reality this might be, but I suspect there's some over-thinking going on in this thread. I doubt that this is a wide-ranging investigation into the rights and wrongs of rail fare policy or the market, but merely a tribunal, determining the relevant facts and assessing them against the existing law guided by submissions from the two sides.

Aside from any procedural shenanigans, a typical bread-and-butter question might be what is the current validity of each fare - a normally straightforward question of fact presumably determined by reference to existing contracts, regulations and laws. Expectations of the contracting parties, customs and practice might also play some role. There can only be one answer and this might be the most contentious element involving multiple appeals if agreement can't be reached.

Then you might deduce that some contracts were void (although some service was provided and accepted), or that they were valid but the relevant rights and restrictions of the fares were essentially the same such that the only material difference was price, or that they were indeed different in some way relating, for example, to the branding visible on the side of each train or in published timetables.

And then any remedy might range from full reimbursement of the price paid, through to nothing. Or one of those surprisingly common settlements that conveniently just about covers all the legal fees and not much more.

Along the way there might be interesting disclosures - or a desire to withhold certain documents (if there's a smoking gun) might limit the arguments put forward or lead to concessions - and the criminal law could play a role later if, for example, entirely hypothetically, disclosures revealed individuals at some level accepted branded tickets were interchangeable yet took no action so as to make more money for the company.

I can see arguments for both sides and I might just have written paragraphs of complete nonsense so I'll be interested to see how the dispute gets linearised and watch it progress - or not.
 

island

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“Thameslink” is a sufficiently vague term that a reasonable traveller would not know whether it refers to TL branded trains, or GTR operated trains.
I guarantee you that if you pick 10 random travellers at Brighton, East Croydon or London Bridge and ask them to point out the Thameslink trains, nobody will point to a Southern one.
 

WesternLancer

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Even if we accept that rail companies should be allowed to differentiate prices within their own brands (without being a route based alternative ticket) — which is far from obvious, considering the competition implications: the restriction was created to allow companies to compete with each other, not to allow a single company even more opportunity to segment the market — “Thameslink” is a sufficiently vague term that a reasonable traveller would not know whether it refers to TL branded trains, or GTR operated trains. Rail companies are not typically forgiving of passenger mistakes (even honest ones), which is OK, but in that case there should be absolutely no ambiguity in the other direction.
From the operating companies point of view what is the point of having branded pricing between TL and SN anyway? Once they are the same company you are not winning business from a competitor to create more profit for your shareholders, as there is only one set of shareholders. The only other reason would be to use it to try and reduce congestion on one brand of train and incentivise passengers to travel on another. But that can be achieved with Advance fares - which Southern seem to offer but I don't think TL do.

The only other reason I can think of to keep it would be to accrue revenue in the form of penalties from people who get on the wrongly branded service for the ticket.
 

JonathanH

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But that can be achieved with Advance fares - which Southern seem to offer but I don't think TL do.
It can, but only at the loss of much more flexibility than is lost by restricting travel to trains formed of units with a Thameslink logo on the side.

What would be the view if the 'Thameslink only' tickets had been restricted to 'Class 700 only' after May 2018? This would have caused far more confusion but would have avoided the brand issue. Would this be legally acceptable?

The only other reason I can think of to keep it would be to accrue revenue in the form of penalties from people who get on the wrongly branded service for the ticket.
That is ridiculous. The reason the fares have continued to exist since the point at which they were meant to be eliminated is because it would have been politically difficult to do so during the period of disruption caused first by the Southern DOO dispute, the London Bridge issues and then the introduction of the Thameslink timetable.

I agree that these fares are now on borrowed time but to argue that they are only offering these tickets to intentionally trying to raise penalties from people getting on the wrong train is not reflecting on the circumstances which have allowed them to continue to be offered.
 
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323235

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As always, be careful what you wish for. This forum had a predilection for some time for using "Southern Only" tickets on Gatwick Express. The logical endpoint of claiming GTR cannot enforce cheaper tickets by sub-brand is the loss of the cheaper fares, and a levelling up of fares to deliver poorer value to the people who use the train most (I genuinely could not care less about GX being a rip off, it's an airport train which tourists make a beeline for...it is what it is).

This sort of militant parsimony coupled with an aggressive desire to use the rules in the most permissive way only has negative consequences.

I have to disagree, given the situation with GBR creation and the move to concessions I think this will not have the consequences that you are expecting because it's highly likely that the current TOC specific tickets will be abolished anyway because from what we have heard it will be one brand for all. What is might actually do is start to tip the scales in terms of a real world overhaul of the fare system or highlight the need to change the types of tickets offered. It could well bring to an end the situation of using the route field for incorrect purposes, although maybe that will happen naturally anyway.
 

WesternLancer

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Thanks. I agree with you.
What would be the view if the 'Thameslink only' tickets had been restricted to 'Class 700 only' after May 2018? This would have caused far more confusion but would have avoided the brand issue. Would this be legally acceptable?
No idea on the legalities. But probably impractical and would make the situation more of a laughing stock / magnet for adverse media attention I suspect!

That is ridiculous. The reason the fares have continued to exist since the point at which they were meant to be eliminated is because it would have been politically difficult to do so during the period of disruption caused first by the Southern DOO dispute, the London Bridge issues and then the introduction of the Thameslink timetable.

I agree that these fares are now on borrowed time but to argue that they are only offering these tickets to intentionally trying to raise penalties from people getting on the wrong train is not reflecting on the circumstances which have allowed them to continue to be offered.

Again I agree. I don't believe in some sort of conspiracy to do that and I wasn't arguing it, or believe that that was their motivation, it was that I could see no other reason (or no other financially driven reason) not to have done it.

Your point about it being politically difficult is a plausible reason however - so thanks for putting it forward, though I am sure that could have been overcome by pitching it as a 'passenger friendly simplification' had they wished to do it at the time. The TOC will know how many of the cheaper fares are sold after all, and the costs of abolishing them or the cost of reducing other fares to that level. Given the DfT specified this as part of the franchise commitment docs (as prev mentioned), the TOC would have had 'air cover' under which to do it as well. Probably just got kicked down the road as too much else going on.

I suppose that would be: "we need to abolish some anomalous cheaper fares now these franchises have been merged (or reduce other fares to match them), and the govt has told us to do that, and it's debatable that we have the legal ability to offer them now anyway, but we will get grief and bad PR if we are not careful so let's park that problem for now."

Or they could have instructed TSGN staff to now honour the fares on all services during the time period of the day of their validity whatever brand of train people were on, but they must have actively made a decision not to do that at a TOC managerial / retail level one presumes.
 
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Fawkes Cat

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Going all the way back to the original press release:
Messrs. Vermeer and Boyle have instructed Maitland Walker LLP, a law firm with offices in London, Taunton and Minehead. The Maitland Walker team includes solicitors Julian Maitland- Walker and Adrian Render. Mr. Maitland-Walker is a leading competition practitioner with over 40 years in competition practice. Mr. Render is one of the few UK competition lawyers to have experience of opt-out collective action cases, having worked on U.S. Federal Multidistrict Litigation on a number of consumer cartel damages recovery and monopolisation opt-out actions.

Maitland Walker LLP has engaged Charles Hollander QC of Brick Court Chambers and David Went of Exchange Chambers to act as barristers for the Claim.

This legal action is being funded by LCM Funding UK Limited, a highly experienced third-party litigation funder, and insurance is in place to cover adverse fees or costs.
(My bold)

This forum is generally pretty pro-customer, but even we can't see any virtue in this claim. So does it mean that one of the early results of allowing class actions of this type in English law is not that all sorts of wrongs are being righted, but that lawyers are being paid to occupy the court system with case of limited merit? If so, then it seems to me that there's a case for considering whether the benefits of this sort of case continue to outweigh the drawbacks (which now include cluttering up the court system, and a case whose primary aim appears to be to enrich the legal profession).
 

Tazi Hupefi

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Going all the way back to the original press release:

(My bold)

This forum is generally pretty pro-customer, but even we can't see any virtue in this claim. So does it mean that one of the early results of allowing class actions of this type in English law is not that all sorts of wrongs are being righted, but that lawyers are being paid to occupy the court system with case of limited merit? If so, then it seems to me that there's a case for considering whether the benefits of this sort of case continue to outweigh the drawbacks (which now include cluttering up the court system, and a case whose primary aim appears to be to enrich the legal profession).

I'm sure there is some merit to the case, but it is a very narrow issue, not likely to resonate with the people they allege to represent, who, for the most part, will probably have been quite happy with the fares arrangements. Again, it is only on this forum where I can find any real complaints about this practice.

I personally suspect the case will fail anyway, or fail to reach a judicial ruling at least.

A conclusion either way is 2 years or longer away anyway.
 

yorkie

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It can, but only at the loss of much more flexibility than is lost by restricting travel to trains formed of units with a Thameslink logo on the side.

What would be the view if the 'Thameslink only' tickets had been restricted to 'Class 700 only' after May 2018? This would have caused far more confusion but would have avoided the brand issue. Would this be legally acceptable?
Can we keep away from hypothetical scenarios in this thread please?

If you can think of a way to achieve this idea lawfully, feel free to post your idea in the appropriate forum section.

I agree that these fares are now on borrowed time but to argue that they are only offering these tickets to intentionally trying to raise penalties from people getting on the wrong train is not reflecting on the circumstances which have allowed them to continue to be offered.
I agree they are not just trying to raise money through the issuing of penalties. Many millions of pounds will be raised through people overpaying for their tickets.

This forum is generally pretty pro-customer, but even we can't see any virtue in this claim.
Who is 'we'? Half a dozen people?

So does it mean that one of the early results of allowing class actions of this type in English law is not that all sorts of wrongs are being righted....
If you think it's not 'wrong' for GTR to overcharge people in the manner they are doing, it is your right to think that. But I disagree.

but that lawyers are being paid to occupy the court system with case of limited merit? If so, then it seems to me that there's a case for considering whether the benefits of this sort of case continue to outweigh the drawbacks (which now include cluttering up the court system, and a case whose primary aim appears to be to enrich the legal profession).
Feel free to create a thread in General Discussion proposing the abolishment of class action claims, and we can debate it there :)

I'm sure there is some merit to the case, but it is a very narrow issue....
In your opinion, but given how your opinions often differ to mine on the matter of railway ticketing disputes, this isn't exactly a surprise that we disagree ;)

not likely to resonate with the people they allege to represent, who, for the most part, will probably have been quite happy with the fares arrangements.
So, you get on a train at Gatwick and tap in, you arrive at platform 12 and pay £8.70 or you arrive at platform 13 and pay £19.80.

I don't think "most" people are going to be happy to be overcharged by that much.

If your argument is that "most" people won't realise they've been overcharged, that's a weak argument which doesn't in any way undermine the case.

Again, it is only on this forum where I can find any real complaints about this practice.
Where else - other than social media - do people regularly post details of disputes with train companies?

If people post on forums such as MSE or Consumer action forums, they generally get sent here.

That said if you look hard enough you will find plenty of people have concerns, not just people posting on this forum.

Here's a blog post from a former transport company owner/director:


I got my £20 penalty fare back from GTR​

It’s also rather ironic that the ‘Penalty Fare notice/receipt’ is issued by ‘Govia Thameslink Railway’ with all four of GTR’s branded logos displayed – confirming they are all one and the same company, despite the belief of my friendly, but sadly, very ill-informed ticket inspector.
From the comments in the above article:
Yet again another demonstration of how poor the training is for customer-facing staff on today’s railway....
This being the case, “Thameslink only” can only possibly mean “Govia Thameslink Ltd. only”, in other words the only restriction that applies is on using GWR services between Gatwick Airport and Redhill. An onerous limitation indeed!
.i suspect if you had failed to get your money back and took the matter to the small claims court you would win
you can’t restrict tickets to specific parts of TOCs by brand
A cynic might dare suggest that this was an appeal GTR chose not to fight
when GTR charges you a penalty fare or attempts to prosecute you, they are breaking the law.

And social media is awash with complaints:
https://twitter.com/penaltyfare/status/1032729077088772097
As far as we are aware all complaints regarding this "issue" are always refunded and PFs Cancelled if a fuss is made once GTR Senior Customer Relations/Complex Cases get involved. Clearly GTR don't want a precedence set, plus they wouldn't win anyway.
https://twitter.com/Tarland1961/status/1004000208416575489
Exactly, why isn’t it already in place, after all it has the same parent company ownership, which brings into question your fare policy on Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express, but that’s another story.
https://twitter.com/AnthonyHolford/status/1004354820675964928
@which All the peak Brighton services from Victoria are now @GatwickExpress so GTR can make more profit. 2020 daylight robbery.

https://twitter.com/joncstone/status/1305223703475752960
Ridiculously overpriced in general
Yeah probably the most expensive airport link I’ve been on?

https://twitter.com/stephenblanchar/status/1286241941131206657
....@SouthernRailUK ....part of Govia who run Thameslink and Gatwick Express...over a lot of the same territory...have 136 different fares twixt Gatwick and Victoria, 68 being exclusive Southern only, Thameslink only or not Gatwick Express...good luck with that sound idea..?

https://twitter.com/idrewdoughnut/status/1225823871892414469
Hi L, is there a valid reason why my thameslink travelcard for Brighton to London Zones 1-6 was not accepted on the 7:27 Gatwick Express service, given that the 7:18 thameslink service was cancelled?

https://twitter.com/Nareystoepoke/status/1223202030715645952
@GatwickExpress another Tourist receives a whacking cost for having the wrong ticket. I see this so often coming from Brighton. It is clearly not explained well enough to visitors the differences. You need to help these people not smash them.
@ABCommuters

https://twitter.com/freezydorito/status/1221518748609282054
just been made aware that before it’s brand was ‘we need to justify charging 4x the price of thameslink for seemingly no real reason so we fancy now’ (right) the gatwick express was the most 2000s brand ever (left)

https://twitter.com/petercload/status/1003920066985984000
@TLRailUK
no trains from Brighton to London Bridge station staff said I could use Thameslink ticket on any train to London and then had to pay extra on Gatwick Express - no trains - no communication - paid extra to get to the wrong place - disgraceful service again !
you can't legally be charged extra for the Gatwick Express if you have a Thameslink ticket as Govia own both Thameslink and GTX and aren't allowed to charge different fares for different services they own.

https://twitter.com/NormanNormal12/status/1204694632397000704
Replying to @GatwickExpress and @malichauco
Is the penalty fare definitely due? Many are issued unlawfully.

https://twitter.com/hillbilly_rock/status/736156173271994368
@GatwickExpress disgusting treatment from your staff today. Train from Brighton to Victoria, unaware it was a GE train, charged £40 penalty

https://twitter.com/railtwak/status/755041285870878720
so for the record that if I travel on Gatwick express with Southern issue ticket then a £5 fee is payable?

https://twitter.com/gibgibgib1/status/384766875713810432
@GatwickExpress your staff let me onto your train with an invalid ticket (I didn't know it was invalid), then I got a penalty charge. Fair?
@GatwickExpress my ticket excluded Gatwick Express, but I obvs didn't notice. Didn't work in barrier so your guy let me through...

https://twitter.com/GoddardlukeLuke/status/976157629113339904
My train got terminated this morning at Gatwick. We were all told to get on the next rain at platform 4. Apparently this was a Gatwick express so the guard then continued to charge everyone the extra fare on the train! All those he had not charged were charged at the barrier.Thnx

https://twitter.com/MattCampbell/status/755674387857178625
@TfL I was charged Monday for Gatwick Express fare, despite taking a stopping LGW-Vic train, and that only b/c of disruption to Thameslink.
This happens far too often where people without Knowledge are fleeced. Complain via Southern HQ

https://twitter.com/PhilipWorsfold/status/1006798515727675392
Contactless payment on @GatwickExpress have to use gates 9-12 to pay the right fare. Using actual Gatwick Express platforms will charge an excess #scam

https://twitter.com/jonnyjkyle/status/900753077564788738
Yep. £19.90 for GX, £8.10 for Southern. Same rolling stock, same rails, same journey length. The seats are red, though.

https://twitter.com/Chris_Read74/status/1003254994592821248
Will you be charging Penalty Fares and prosecuting Thameslink ticket holders who use Gatwick Express during the timetable meltdown? Please confirm.
Hi ticket acceptance has not been arranged then a Thameslink ticket will not be valid on Gatwick Express ^Nafisa
That's just ridiculous at a time when you'd think you need all the good will you can get and the timetable is in chaos @CarolineLucas
@peterkyle

https://twitter.com/NotVeryCynical/status/835501324234027012
Dear @SouthernRailUK Don't think you can intimidate people by pretending they will have to pay a penalty fare travelling on Gatwick Express

https://twitter.com/ozwaldcornelius/status/734781984296275972
Gosh...three people *just in my carriage* with the wrong ticket and are being fined. They're angry and confused.
@GatwickExpress

https://twitter.com/MizzCQ/status/963551854880788482
I’ve heard rumours that AM rush hour Southern services have been replaced by thameslink trains and OBS are issueing penalties to passengers on stops prior to BTN which is totally unacceptable!

https://twitter.com/markm154/status/1192453393845030915
@GatwickExpress i need to get a refund part of my journey to Gatwick airport on 3rd nov because when i took the 5.45am train with southern i was charged the full £19.80 i spoke to Tfl and they said that the barriers are part of gatwick express so they will refund you the money

https://twitter.com/ImaginaryCard/status/1071192850677882880
@SouthernRailUK @TfL I've just been charged £19.80 for a journey I made that was on a normal southern service and not Gatwick express. How can I get my money back?

https://twitter.com/nleonij9/status/1007874762931130368
@TfL took a southern train from VIC to Gatwick yesterday before 4pm on my contactless payment card. But I’ve been charged the peak Gatwick express fare. How do I request a refund?

https://twitter.com/ludgatelarry/status/353479262227017728
@kate_quill The trick is to sell them a 'Southern Only' ticket at Gatwick. In their ignorance they board the GE. Charged extra at Victoria.

https://twitter.com/sachab/status/669102305510301696
@southernrailuk display at Gatwick said I could use my Southern ticket on any train due to delays but got charged extra for using G Exp?

https://twitter.com/markweeksphoto/status/1177171847403716609
I’d wanted to catch the service to Clapham junction. I looked at the board. It said next train to CPJ was pltfm 4. I made it to the pltfm as doors closing. Jumped on and only then realised it G-EXP. I didn’t want to tap out as I’d be charged. They made me tap out. Want refund

https://twitter.com/Memolipd/status/1042003910360268800
I was charged a penalty fare and not allowed to tap out by one of your staff. I appealed and was told my appeal was rejected. I'd like my money back please as clearly someone didn't know how to do their job properly and I paid for it GA9079397

https://twitter.com/minithedog1/status/735121587846926336
@SouthernRailUK brilliant - any customers using vic to caterham train on platform 13 all charged gatwick fare and no advice from staff.

https://twitter.com/Thebluebike/status/715776549002285056
@GatwickExpress @Gatwick_Airport Wondering why u charged £49 4 Gatwick express - it's a normal train & fare #ripoff

https://twitter.com/nahokomusic/status/710453757608337408
I took a @southernrailuk train back from Gatwick airport late last night using my oyster and was charged Gatwick Exoress single fare :(


I personally suspect the case will fail anyway, or fail to reach a judicial ruling at least.
That's great news for the case; if you suspect it will fail, that's a good sign it won't ;)
 
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TheEdge

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There is no provision in the TSA for fares to be set by brand. No other train company has attempted to do this.

Is that because every other company is being well behaved or because no other company is in a position to try it? Sure, some other TOCs (EMR jumps to mind) brand their different services by region or service type but don't try and make them out as another company, which is what GTR is in the position to do.

Is the WAG ticketed separately of the normal fares, thats about the only one I can think of.
 

ainsworth74

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Is the WAG ticketed separately of the normal fares, thats about the only one I can think of.
Nope. Usual fares are available, there's no special "WAG Only" fares. Only thing that is a bit different is the Business Zone supplement but that basically works in a very similar (if not functionally identical) fashion to a weekend first upgrade. If there's a seat available sit down in the Business Zone and the conductor will sell you the supplement or buy one in advance from a booking office.
 

yorkie

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Is that because every other company is being well behaved ...
In this particular area? Yes. This situation is unique to GTR.

Other companies - such as West Midlands Trains (who operate the WMR and LNR brands) and Greater Anglia (who also operate trains branded Stansted Express ) - do not act in this manner.
 

35B

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In this particular area? Yes. This situation is unique to GTR.

Other companies - such as West Midlands Trains (who operate the WMR and LNR brands) and Greater Anglia (who also operate trains branded Stansted Express ) - do not act in this manner.
And in acknowledging that it's unique to GTR, we also need to acknowledge that GTR was assembled out of three historically distinct TOCs, each of which had their own market positioning.

Personally, I have no issue with the concept of distinguishing by brand within a TOC, and am not impressed with the narrow legalism of the interpretation of the TSA even though I think it's probably correct. However, I am also equally unimpressed by the way that this has been managed, especially by the (ab)use of ticket gates to determine fares and the imposition of penalties upon travellers "guilty" of having used the "wrong" train for a journey.

I therefore hope that the claimants win in court, and also that the judge (assuming it gets that far) follows the example of the jury in the Whistler vs Ruskin libel trial, and leaves the claimants' funders severely out of pocket.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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I'm also taking some issue with the fact that members like @yorkie believe that whatever the industry agreement is shall be fixed and never change, or evolve. Many contracts, even laws, evolve over time, without the need for amendments or interpretations to be written down.

That is not to say that people like @yorkie are not completely correct, and their view of the matter is still accurate, but if these fares have been available for a long time, and the parties to the agreement are (knowingly) content with that position, and not disputing or attempting to prevent Govia doing such things, arguably the contract or agreement has changed, and accepted - in which case the legality becomes even narrower in that if the industry approved of what Govia were / are doing, and the agreement has evolved through custom and practice, or other non written agreements,, you then need to show that the change was anticompetitive as a result.
 

yorkie

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I'm also taking some issue with the fact that members like @yorkie believe that whatever the industry agreement is shall be fixed and never change, or evolve. Many contracts, even laws, evolve over time, without the need for amendments or interpretations to be written down.
The TSA can be found here:


It currently has no provision for brand restricted fares, but if you think it will be modified to enable such fares, I'll predict it won't be, and in time we will see who was right :) Shall we revisit this in, say, a year?

That is not to say that people like @yorkie are not completely correct, and their view of the matter is still accurate, but if these fares have been available for a long time, and the parties to the agreement are (knowingly) content with that position, and not disputing Govia doing such things, arguably the contract or agreement has changed, and accepted - in which case the legality becomes even narrower in that if the industry approved of what Govia were / are doing, and the agreement has evolved, you then need to show that the change was anticompetitive as a result.


Your argument appears to be that the Department for Transport has effectively "changed" the TSA by turning a blind eye to breaches of it? Is that what you are saying? Even if you were able to argue this successfully, I don't see how this would change the outcome of this case.
 

35B

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I'm also taking some issue with the fact that members like @yorkie believe that whatever the industry agreement is shall be fixed and never change, or evolve. Many contracts, even laws, evolve over time, without the need for amendments or interpretations to be written down.

That is not to say that people like @yorkie are not completely correct, and their view of the matter is still accurate, but if these fares have been available for a long time, and the parties to the agreement are (knowingly) content with that position, and not disputing or attempting to prevent Govia doing such things, arguably the contract or agreement has changed, and accepted - in which case the legality becomes even narrower in that if the industry approved of what Govia were / are doing, and the agreement has evolved through custom and practice, or other non written agreements,, you then need to show that the change was anticompetitive as a result.
I work as a contract manager and am always mindful that if a dispute were to arise, it is the written agreement that will tend to prevail, and any "evolution" would need to be proven - usually quite onerous, and liable to bring out quite a lot on the way.

I'd also observe that the case is based on the impact of the alleged anti-competitive behaviour on farepaying passengers, and therefore that whether "the industry" did or did not approve of GTR's conduct might in fact point to guilt (as evidencing cartel like behaviour) rather than innocence.
The TSA can be found here:


It currently has no provision for brand restricted fares, but if you think it will be modified to enable such fares, I'll predict it won't be, and in time we will see who was right :) Shall we revisit this in, say, a year?

Your argument appears to be that the Department for Transport has effectively "changed" the TSA by turning a blind eye to breaches of it? Is that what you are saying? Even if you were able to argue this successfully, I don't see how this would change the outcome of this case.
As the TSA is a contract between RSP and the operators, I'm not quite sure (but IANAL) how it is that the actions of GTR in selling brand level tickets not provided for in the TSA could be actionable by a customer who is not party to that contract. However, the arguments about anti-competitive (and anti-consumer) behaviour seem at face value much more compelling.
 
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