Gatwick Express - Private Eye Article

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by trentside, 10 Feb 2012.

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  1. trentside

    trentside Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    Private Eye magazine (issue 1307) has picked up on the issue of ticket validity on Southern's 'Gatwick Express' services. An issue which has been the source of much debate on here.

    The Eye points out that GatEx was merged into Southern in 2008, but is still treated as a premium service - despite the fact that GatEx trains are slower than some SN services, as well as the issue of the 'Express' trains which continue onto Brighton. The article points out that SN still charge a premium to those travelling to Gatwick, but fares to other stations on the line are not charged at a premium rate, even when travelling on a 'GatEx' train.

    Mention is also made on the validity of DaySave and Downlander tickets - which now state that they are not valid on GatEx. The issue remains, as the article points out, with the Southern network map which continues to include the GatEx service - despite Southern tickets apparently not being valid on the service.

    The article does not mention the issue of whether GatEx is a seperate company or franchise - as has been claimed by members of staff and representatives of the company to members of this forum.

    I hope this is of interest.
     
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  3. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Most interesting, thanks. This is yet more evidence that we are absolutely right and that this is a total farce by Southern. I would have liked to have seen some pictures, but this feature is most welcome :)
    The DfT have clarified this several times, I think this latest reply is as clear as it possibly can be and leaves us in no doubt whatsoever that Southern are telling porkies to us! Southern AGREE that there is no separate Gatwick Express TOC to the DfT. They only disagree when Liam Ludlow writes (under instruction from their incredibly overrated yet seemingly clueless MD Chris Burchell) to the general public whenever anyone writes to complain. Even the staff at Victoria no longer claim it's a separate TOC (but they do claim that the NRCoC restricts tickets by brand rather than by Company, and refuse to read the NRCoC to see that it says otherwise. I think they would argue that the world was flat if it suited them).
     
  4. First class

    First class Established Member

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    Gatwick Express is managed and operated by Southern, the trading name for Southern Railway Limited, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of GOVIA Limited and is part of the Go-Ahead Group Rail Division.

    Southern (company number 6574965) operates from its registered office at:
    Go-Ahead House,
    26-28 Addiscombe Road,
    Croydon,
    CR9 5GA

    GOVIA Limited (company number 3278419) has its registered office at:
    3rd Floor,
    41-51 Grey Street,
    Newcastle upon Tyne,
    NE1 6EE.

    If a ticket can be classed as a "business document" (from Southern's point of view) then I think I've got something :)

    Regulations made under the Companies Act 2006 require a company to display its name at its registered office and other places of business, on business documents and on websites. The purpose of the regulations is that the legal identity of every company should be revealed to anyone who have, or may wish to have, dealings with it.

    The requirements are included in 'The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations (Statutory Instrument 2008/495) and The Companies (Trading Disclosures) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 (SI No. 218)

    Furthermore, Southern MUST display a sign with their company name in characters that can be read with the naked eye; in such a way that visitors to that office, place or location may easily see it; continuously, but if the location is shared by six or more companies, each such company is only required to display its registered name for at least fifteen continuous seconds at least once in every three minutes.

    Does Southern make this "easy to see" at stations?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 10 Feb 2012
  5. MarkyMarkD

    MarkyMarkD Member

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    No tickets show the relevant limited company details, so Gatwick Express is no different to any other in this regard.

    There clearly isn't space on a ticket to show a long company name, so I think the discussion is somewhat irrelevant.

    Isn't the point here rather more that Southern should be clearer on its tickets whether it permits travel via Gatwick Express, in the same way that Southeastern does with HS1? Using this same parallel, that would mean that all tickets priced by other TOCs to Gatwick would include GE for free, as tickets priced by other TOCs to Southeastern stations generally include HS1 for free, because of the permitted routes rules.
     
  6. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    A very interesting point. Can I ask if anyone here has a 'thermal printer' receipt issued at Victoria or Gatwick station for a 'gatwick express' ticket and if so what it says on it
     
  7. button_boxer

    button_boxer Established Member

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    That would be irrelevant as it would only tell you the company that sold you the ticket, not the company on whose trains you would be travelling. I could buy a ticket from Victoria to Gatwick at Sheffield and the receipt would say East Midlands Trains.
     
  8. MarkyMarkD

    MarkyMarkD Member

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    I don't think they even say that, button_boxer. None of my tickets ever say the name of the retailing TOC on them, and only if they are TOC specific do they say "EC & Connections" or similar but never the full company name. "EC & Connections" is a route, not a TOC, or at least that is what the heading on the ticket says.

    Arguably GE is not even a route, as it's common to other Southern trains.
     
  9. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    I do, it says Southern, because that's who runs the ticket office. As pointed out above, this is irrelevant.

    This was however for a ticket I bought to travel on the GX because the ticket office wouldn't excess my Any Permitted single to an Any Permitted return. This is slightly contradictory to the GX gateline staff the next morning who happily excessed my Southern Only return with a supplement to allow travel on GX.
     
  10. LexyBoy

    LexyBoy Established Member Fares Advisor

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    AFAIK, there's no reason a single shouldn't be excessed to a return, so it's interesting that you were refused this.

    What is more interesting is that excessing a TOC specific ticket to an interavailable ticket is expressly not allowed. GatEx is of course operated by Southern, so in theory it should be OK to be able to excess a ticket allowing travel only on Southern services to one which allows travel on a service operated by Southern... ;) (before yet another debate over whether Gatwick Express is a "Southern service" - a topic on which I'm not entirely convinced by either side yet - this is meant in jest! Although a "Southern Only" ticket should not be excessed to "Any Permitted").
     
  11. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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  12. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    At least they actually bothered to respond on this occasion :roll: Note how they say they are a TOC within a separate franchise (i.e. SN).

    Do you think the DfT might have a Facebook account? Maybe a little "link" is in order ;)
     
  13. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    FFS - the bottom of the Gatwick Express website (linked to from the Facebook page) says;

    So the operator is Southern. TOC means Train Operating Company, so the TOC is Southern.

    Jesus Christ - when will they just accept it's Southern and move on, and let people travel with Southern Only tickets until they find a way to sell 'Not GatEx or FCC' tickets or whatever they want to do!!

    Tourists will probably buy the more expensive tickets anyway.

    Update: I was bored, so I posted on the GatEx Facebook page;

     
    Last edited: 10 Feb 2012
  14. Furrball

    Furrball Member

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    Bit from Twitter earlier:

    [​IMG]
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Southern have told the DfT that Gatwick Express is NOT a separate company. They should not be telling us something different.

    Perhaps they could have got away with that in pre-FOI days, but no longer.

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/87768/response/246601/attach/html/2/120224%20FOI%20Letter%20Magheramorne%20NRCoC%20Oct%20Train%20Companies%20Southern.pdf.html

    Again, Southern are lying to us!

    Try calling their Press Office, say something like "Do Southern run Gatwick Express?" they are keen to say yes. Then try asking them if they are a separate company, they are keen to say no. But ask the ticket sales people and they give a very different answer.

    We have recordings of them contradicting themselves that we reserve the right to use as evidence against them, if they continue to lie.

    We also have a vast amount of evidence in the form of letters from Liam Ludlow, including where he claims that Gatwick Express is a separate franchise, and then has to issue an apology and retraction. Quite how someone can be in his position without an accurate understanding of the structure of his company is beyond my comprehension.

    Ultimately though Chris Burchell is to blame, and Liam Ludlow and the others are only acting under his orders. Chris directs all correspondance to Liam Ludlow and doesn't want to know.
     
  16. tgsh2011

    tgsh2011 Member

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    Oh can't we listen to them for amusement purposes .................... please :lol:
     
  17. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Maybe, but you can get your own amusement by going to the ticket office or ringing them ;)

    Another one that can be amusing:

    "Can you tell me what the cheapest ticket is that is valid on ALL trains that are operated by Southern?"

    In the past they said "Southern Only" and then got flustered when shown the Gatwick Express website, they'd even accuse passengers of doctoring the website :lol:

    However now they have got wise to this, and offer the "Any Permitted" ticket, if you then say "Is there not a Southern only ticket?" they say that it only allows travel on trains branded by Southern, and sometimes they give you car brand comparisons (highly amusing).

    When you then point out that the NRCoC does not permit tickets to be restricted by brand and in fact allows tickets to be ristricted by Company, then they deny knowledge of Condition 10. They refuse to read the condition and admit that there is no-one at the gateline or ticket office who is familiar with it.

    They then direct you to a separate office, where you can have a highly amusing conversation with a senior manager who admits that, despite being a senior manager, he is "not senior enough" to know if Gatwick Express is a separate company or not and that you have to write in to ask.

    Writing to Chris Burchell gets you a letter from Liam Ludlow admitting they are the same company but that Gatwick Express is a company "for the purposes of ticketing".

    The good news is I am only aware of 3 people who were charged extra, 2 of them got refunds, and the 3rd has not (yet?) got back to me, but I am sure he will too.

    Also, the restriction is not enforceable as the barriers accept Southern Only tickets, and tickets are rarely checked on board.

    Oh but be careful! One member of this forum asked "who pays your wages?" this was deemed to be a "personal" question and the matter was referred to a BTP community officer because it is apparently not permitted to ask such such a question. For the record, the forum member was trying to purchase a Southern only ticket from the ticket machine when he was approached by a member of staff who claimed to work for a company called Gatwick Express (which is, as confirmed by Companies House, a non-trading company that ceased to exist in 2008) and informed him that if he proceeded with the purchase his ticket would not be valid.
     
  18. LondonJohn

    LondonJohn Member

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    I saw that earlier and was going to tweet a reply but couldn't remember the specifics of what is the actual scenario so didn't tweet anything.
     
  19. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    You could ask them if they comply with NRCoC. When they say yes, ask them if Condition 10, when it refers to a "Company", what the definition of Company is, and whether an entity that is not a Company according to the DfT or Companies House can be considered a Company under Condition 10, and if so can you have their justification for that in writing and would they consider that to be the true legal position?

    (And don't stand for the claim that the Appendix lists Gat Ex as a Company; DfT have confirmed that isn't the case on numerous occasions!)

    They are not going to enter a legal battle though, I am sure. Everyone who uses Southern Only tickets and travels on Gat Ex has either not been charged, not been detected, or refunded as far as I am aware! (OK, it's not my area of the country but a lot of people have been giving me feedback over this issue) Of course I make no guarantees about a journey by a particular person but anyone who is charged in future, I will be happy to assist in drafting up a robust letter to get their money back.

    Some people are in the process of contacting their MPs, Passenger Focus and Trading Standards too. However, as passengers are currently being refunded when they complain to Southern, there isn't much interest in getting anything done about it.

    I'm not too bothered either, now that most of the time tickets are accepted by barriers anyway, we'll kick up a big fuss if they refuse to give people their money back though (if anyone is actually being charged, since the regular on train checks finished!)
     
  20. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    If you don't post them here, give them to Private Eye - I am sure they'd love to take things further.
     
  21. TUC

    TUC Established Member

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    When I travelled in first class on Gatwick Express the surprising thing was that its the only TOC I'm aware of that charges first class passengers for tea and coffee. The couple next to me were deeply unimpressed too. They commented that they'd just got off first class on a plane where everything had been free only to find that Gatwick Express was to charge them for just a coffee.

    A true own goal by Gatwick Express. The bad impression left by such a approach far outweighes the cost for them to provide a coffee.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Let's hope the BTP officer gave short shrift to whoever had called them out. Asking a (supposedly) personal question is hardly an offence!:-x
     
    Last edited: 11 Feb 2012
  22. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    There's nothing special about the Gatwick Express at all. Some more room put aside from luggage, and nobody else on the train (not likely to be part of the plan) but that's about it. It basically has no stops on the way, but isn't that much quicker despite that.

    Heathrow Express charges a fortune for its route, but besides free Wi-Fi you don't get anything extra in first class there either. In fact, no tea or coffee at all - free or not.

    HEX can get busy, so first class might be worth the money for your seat and table. However, if GatEx is usually half empty, you'd simply be better off not paying for FC at all and using that money to pay for your tea or coffee!
     
  23. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    The bizarre thing is that when the Thameslink core is open, there will be even less demand for GatEx as the FCC service will go to more places that people want to go (except to the government type area, that Victoria is convenient for.
     
  24. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I am guessing the person on the train took this to mean the member was suggesting HE paid his wages, which may have offended him. Sadly, some members of staff can get upset and then try and do or say things that aren't correct to get back (like saying it's illegal to ask such a question, or call over a PCSO that probably hasn't got a clue). However, in this case, it was clearly meant to refer to the fact that the staff member is employed, and paid, by Southern.

    Maybe you just need to rephrase the question: "What company is on your payslip?" or ask to see some ID, or why the uniform may in fact say Southern. Surely any member of the public is perfectly entitled to ask for a valid ID? If it then says Southern, as it clearly will, perhaps ask why they're claiming to work for another company.

    True, I've only gone to Victoria because the core was closed during the engineering work. Once this reopens for good (May?) then it will be FCC every single time. No doubt sitting in the nice declassified FC compartment on a 377/5!
     
    Last edited: 11 Feb 2012
  25. TUC

    TUC Established Member

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    I agree. Its those arriving from overseas like the couple I mentioned that get fleeced by GEx that really gets me cross though.
     
  26. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    As previously discussed, I have been overcharged for the Gatwick Express last month.

    These are the tickets attached.

    Top left is the ticket I purchased from a ticket machine at Gatwick Airport station, having been thoroughly confused by the number of options on the screen I came to the conclusion that the only ticket valid for the next train to Victoria, which was a GX train, was an Any Permitted Anytime single.
    At this point I'd no idea which train I'd be getting back to Gatwick and an Anytime Return at

    Knowing what I know now I could have bought an Off Peak Day Single at £13.20 valid on Southern Trains only. There is also an Anytime Day Single at £13.50 Souther Trains only, then there are Off Peak Day Single not valid on Gatwick Express at £13.60 and an Anytime Day Single not valid on Gatwick Express at £13.70. All these similarly priced tickets make for a confusing choice on the ticket machine!

    Bottom left is the ticket I was sold I was sold after asking if I could excess my Anytime Single to a return to travel on the next Gatwick Express service. This would have cost me an extra £14.30 as an Anytime return is £33.20.

    An off peak Day Return, Southern Trains only, by the way is £13.30, which is what I purchased the next day for the same journey, and you can see in the middle of the attachment. The ticket on the right is the "supplement" I was sold by GX gateline staff in order to travel on the GX on my Southern Only ticket. Note it is not an excess.

    yorkie has mentioned in a previous thread that people in the past have sucessfully claimed the difference between Southern Only and Any Permitted tickets on the basis that the two services are run by the same company. If this is the case then in theory Southern owe me £37.80 - £13.30 = £24 for my journeys on13th January, and £5.40 for the supplement I paid on 15th January.

    I suspect that Southern might not agree to the first since the purchase of an Any Permitted ticket was my own choosing from a ticket machine (despite how complicated it appeared to be). There is, however, no reason why they should not have excessed it to a return ticket for £14.30, right?
     

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  27. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    When there are so many ticket combinations, with confusing restrictions and pricing, it really makes me think a TVM should ask key questions to establish the right ticket.

    (First select destination and if you have a railcard) then:

    1) When are you going to travel (with a clear multiple choice list, showing peak/off-peak/evening peak etc)

    2) Is there any specific operator you wish to travel with (or, you wish to have a flexible ticket - thus 'any permitted)

    3) Do you wish to get a return? If so, to return today or within a month

    Then the machine can check all the possible valid tickets and present in order of price, or just show the cheapest based on what you selected. If there's a restriction on a railcard (e.g. £13 minimum during the week on a Network Railcard) then state that a railcard discount does not qualify on this occasion.

    The above could be an alternative selection screen that is shown on demand from the main menu, allowing people who do know (all 3 of them) to buy the specific tickets quickly and those that are clueless to get some assistance.

    How does someone who doesn't travel a lot work out all of the combinations? In fact, how does a regular, clued-up passenger know even if they use public transport every single day but not on that particular route?

    Simple? No bloody way!

    UPDATE: They replied to my Facebook comment:

     
    Last edited: 13 Feb 2012
  28. Furrball

    Furrball Member

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    Had the same reply on Twitter
     
  29. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Well, the DfT disagrees. The DfT is the regulator. End of!
     
  30. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    My reply (posted here as I am sure that sooner or later they'll remove me/the comment from the page)

     
  31. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    Yorkie I have send you a PM regarding this, I wonder if you've had chance to look at it yet?
     
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