Govia Thameslink Railway: Issues regarding ticket validity across brands

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benk1342

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I don't see it as being unambiguous - there are two parts to the statement.



and



There is a list of current licenses in operation here

Which lists:

Govia Thameslink Railway Limited
Southern Railway Limited

Gatwick Express is not listed separately. I'm not so sure about Southern being separate as they have transferred all their liabilities to Govia Thameslink Railway Limited.

Just because they then go on to say a list of companies can be found in the appendix, doesn't change the fact that the companies in the appendix don't meet the definition that they have included.

I'd say that's a very real case of ambiguity - and generally when there is ambiguity in a contract it should be interpreted in favour of the person who didn't draft it.
That is a fair point and the best argument I have seen on this subject. But I would argue that the list expressly included I the contract (or expressly referred to on the National Rail website) still supersedes the first part of the definition.
 
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Skimpot flyer

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The situation is a mess, regarding Thameslink-only tickets.
Perhaps it would be preferable, were The Argus newspaper to run a story, that they could encourage a "class action"-type test of the validity, by exhorting everyone intending to travel from Brighton to London on a specific, named date to buy a (cheaper) Thameslink-only ticket and each and every one of them to board a xx19 or xx49 Southern-branded service to at least as far as East Croydon.

Knowing in advance that a mass of 'fare dodgers' are about to test the rules, would GTR seriously attempt to Penalty Fare each and every one of them ?
If their assertion that such tickets are invalid - in the legal sense - on a Southern-branded service, they would have a duty to protect their revenue, would they not ? :lol:
 
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ian959

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I don't see it as being unambiguous - there are two parts to the statement.



and



There is a list of current licenses in operation here

Which lists:

Govia Thameslink Railway Limited
Southern Railway Limited

Gatwick Express is not listed separately. I'm not so sure about Southern being separate as they have transferred all their liabilities to Govia Thameslink Railway Limited.

Just because they then go on to say a list of companies can be found in the appendix, doesn't change the fact that the companies in the appendix don't meet the definition that they have included.

I'd say that's a very real case of ambiguity - and generally when there is ambiguity in a contract it should be interpreted in favour of the person who didn't draft it.
Sorry but you are creating the ambiguity. The NRCoC is the gospel as it were. It lists, rightly or wrongly, the operations that are defined as TOCs. That is the definitive listing as to whom the NRCoC are applicable. Any listing anywhere else is irrelevant to what the NRCoC says.

I don't agree with the NRCoC listing but as it stands Gatwick Express IS a separate TOC for the purposes of the NRCoC.
 

Dent

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Sorry but you are creating the ambiguity. The NRCoC is the gospel as it were.
The ambiguity exists because that "gospel" contradicts itself by giving both a definition and a list that doesn't conform to that definition.

Any listing anywhere else is irrelevant to what the NRCoC says.
A listing elsewhere is very relevant if what the NRCoC says uses that list as the basis of a definition, which in this case it does.
 

yorkie

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I have a question for benk1342, Llanigraham, and ian959: Can I just ask if your advice to the OP is to appeal this, or not to?

And if not, why not?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Sorry but you are creating the ambiguity.
If there is, as you say, "ambiguity" or, perhaps a better way of wording it might be 'doubt about the meaning of a written term' (specifically NRCoC Condition 10) then I suggest it is the Train Company, in this case Govia Thameslink Railway, who has created that ambiguity, but fortunately it iwould appear to be easily resolved:
The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

Written contracts
7. - (2) If there is doubt about the meaning of a written term, the interpretation which is most favourable to the consumer shall prevail

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1999/19992083.htm
 

benk1342

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The ambiguity exists because that "gospel" contradicts itself by giving both a definition and a list that doesn't conform to that definition.
An ambiguity in a contract means that the term is reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation.

There is only one reasonable interpetation here. I submit that no reasonable person could read Condition 10, the definition of Train Company and the list of Train Companies in the appendix and genuinely be in doubt as to what is the intended meaning.

Could it be clearer? Yes. But is it reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation? No.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I have a question for benk1342, Llanigraham, and ian959: Can I just ask if your advice to the OP is to appeal this, or not to?

And if not, why not?
I would advise appealing via customer services as you suggested at the outset. I have no doubt that you have had success before and no reason to think it would be any different now, and I would advise the OP to defer to your experience on this.

But I would not advise the OP or anyone else to take this as far as court, as my opinion is that the contract is firmly on the TOC's side.
 

infobleep

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An ambiguity in a contract means that the term is reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation.

There is only one reasonable interpetation here. I submit that no reasonable person could read Condition 10, the definition of Train Company and the list of Train Companies in the appendix and genuinely be in doubt as to what is the intended meaning.

Could it be clearer? Yes. But is it reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation? No.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


I would advise appealing via customer services as you suggested at the outset. I have no doubt that you have had success before and no reason to think it would be any different now, and I would advise the OP to defer to your experience on this.

But I would not advise the OP or anyone else to take this as far as court, as my opinion is that the contract is firmly on the TOC's side.
A one solution to this would be for Govia to not wave the fine and let the matter go to court.

Perhaps they feel there isn't someone doing this persistently enough for them to make it worth while prosecuting them in court.
 

Dent

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An ambiguity in a contract means that the term is reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation.

There is only one reasonable interpetation here. I submit that no reasonable person could read Condition 10, the definition of Train Company and the list of Train Companies in the appendix and genuinely be in doubt as to what is the intended meaning.
What on earth leads you to the conclusion that there is "only one reasonable interpretation"?

The definition and the list contradict each other, leading to two possible interpretations:
1. The definition
2. The list

Contract law dictates that the interpretation most beneficial to the party not drafting the contract has precedent, which in this case is the definition taking precedent over the list.

"Intended meaning" has no bearing on a contract, the terms of the contract are what is actually written.

But I would not advise the OP or anyone else to take this as far as court, as my opinion is that the contract is firmly on the TOC's side.
A court would not base a verdict on your opinion, it would base it on what the contract actually says, and applicable contract law.
 

thedbdiboy

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Given that tweaking the rules would actually solve the problem, why hasn't the DfT already done it? If it really is that easy, surely it should have been done when Southern took over GatEx? There must be more to it than just tweaking the rules.
The DfT don't actually propose changes to the NRCoT - they can only approve changes proposed by the TOCs. Without going into all the gory detail, even a 'tweak' takes months.
 

Sacro

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Southern publish a map on their website showing the Gatwick Express as a Southern service - http://www.southernrailway.com/images/network_map_20120502.pdf. This is linked to directly from their homepage.

Does the fact that they make this prominently available affect their ability to enforce the NRCoC (whatever they might say) in this respect?
Southern is only a brand, as both the "Southern" and "Gatwick Express" sites say "...is a trading name of Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd.".

Whether or not Gatwick Express is a route underneath Southern or not is a fairly moot point, both are operated by Thameslink. The argument about people using "Southern Only" tickets on a 442 is now the same argument that people can use for using a "Thameslink Only" ticket on a 442 and on a green "Southern" 377.
 

MikeWh

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... and on a green "Southern" 377.
Which may or may not be operating a blue Thameslink service at the time. I gather some stock works as Southern into London and Thameslink on the way back. Obvious or what?
 

anme

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Southern is only a brand, as both the "Southern" and "Gatwick Express" sites say "...is a trading name of Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd.".

Whether or not Gatwick Express is a route underneath Southern or not is a fairly moot point, both are operated by Thameslink. The argument about people using "Southern Only" tickets on a 442 is now the same argument that people can use for using a "Thameslink Only" ticket on a 442 and on a green "Southern" 377.
I understand that. My question is about whether this publicity material published by Southern (*) themselves has any effect.

To put it another way, if I was prosecuted for travelling on a Gatwick Express train with a Southern only ticket, would this map from the Southern website be of any use in my defence?

(*) or whoever
 

yorkie

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I doubt it, especially considering the small righting in black at the bottom of the key.
The writing on the map includes "Gatwick Express route" being denoted by a thick red line, and "other train operator route" depicted by a thin black line, and then the text "Other train operators provide additional services along some routes served by Southern".

That couldn't be clearer to me.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
....would this map from the Southern website be of any use in my defence?...
Not quite a direct answer to your hypothetical question but from personal experience, back in the days when Southern (as the TOC was back then) employed ticket examiners on board their Gatwick Express route, I - and several others - witnessed passengers being asked to pay a supplement to Southern because they were using a ticket that was only valid on Southern, and the Southern staff denied that the train was operated by Southern but on production of the Southern network map, the request for payment was withdrawn and it was admitted by the Southern employee that the train was, in fact, operated by Southern.
 

yorkie

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You have your view, Yorkie, I have mine.
Until I see a LEGAL definition it appears we will not agree.
A legal definition of a company? I think that's obvious! There are numerous sources online which attempt to define the term, but it's a well-recognised word and it clearly doesn't mean "a brand".

  • What is the legal identity of the two parties to the contract?
  • Who is the Company with which the passenger is agreeing a Contract?
  • Do you deny that on 26 July 2015, Gatwick Express and Southern joined Great Northern and Thameslink to operate under one company, Govia Thameslink Railway?
 

Agent_c

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I understand that. My question is about whether this publicity material published by Southern (*) themselves has any effect.

To put it another way, if I was prosecuted for travelling on a Gatwick Express train with a Southern only ticket, would this map from the Southern website be of any use in my defence?

(*) or whoever
Southern insisted the answer was no.
 

Llanigraham

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A legal definition of a company? I think that's obvious! There are numerous sources online which attempt to define the term, but it's a well-recognised word and it clearly doesn't mean "a brand".

  • What is the legal identity of the two parties to the contract?
  • Who is the Company with which the passenger is agreeing a Contract?
  • Do you deny that on 26 July 2015, Gatwick Express and Southern joined Great Northern and Thameslink to operate under one company, Govia Thameslink Railway?
I have replied that you and I will disagree.
I see no point in answering you further.
 

deltic

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A legal definition of a company? I think that's obvious! There are numerous sources online which attempt to define the term, but it's a well-recognised word and it clearly doesn't mean "a brand".

  • What is the legal identity of the two parties to the contract?
  • Who is the Company with which the passenger is agreeing a Contract?
  • Do you deny that on 26 July 2015, Gatwick Express and Southern joined Great Northern and Thameslink to operate under one company, Govia Thameslink Railway?
Are the parts of Govia still separate legal entities?

I work for a company lets call it X which was taken over by company Y. Most of the work I do is now branded as being done by company Y but in the small print some is branded as being for company X. My contract of employment is still with X which is 100% owned by Y and separate accounts are produced for Y for tax reasons (to benefit from past company losses). But I tell people I work for Y and from a public perspective X does not exist.

It is all very confusing but does illustrate that 100% owned subsidiaries are not the same legal entity as the parent company and I wonder if this applied to the brands/companies operating under Govia Thameslink.
 

Tetchytyke

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Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern are all brands of one company.

London Midland and South Eastern are different companies, with the same parent owner.

Southern branded trains are operated by a company called Thameslink.

It's a mess. But given that the definition of a TOC is in the NRCoC, and that a TOC is not defined by the legal entity, I think Yorkie is wrong. However he is right to say the OP should fight it- so long as they pay up to protect their position- as GoVia wouldn't want it tested in court as the position is by no means secure and losing would be more expensive than refunding a Penalty Fare.
 

anme

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Would they legally be allowed to charge an excess or penalty fate in cases such as this?
My guess would be yes (assuming they are allowed to charge a penalty at all for using a Thameslink service with a Southern only ticket), as the livery of the train doesn't affect the ToC/franchise/brand operating the service.

However, they would be very unwise to do so. Imagine what would happen when someone went to the media... a bored subeditor could have a lot of fun with such a story and a picture of the train in question.
 
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CyrusWuff

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Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern are all brands of one company.
Just to muddy the waters still further, a look on the Companies House site reveals that Southern Railway Ltd and Thameslink Rail Ltd both still exist, with their Registered Office being Go-Ahead HQ in Newcastle.
 

thedbdiboy

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So far, of course, all the 'legal' arguments in this thread have concerned interpretations of Condition 10. However Condition 12 states:

12. Restrictions on when you can travel
Restrictions apply to the use of some tickets (including those bought with a Railcard) in addition to/other than those in Condition 10 above such as the dates, days, and times when you can use them, and the trains in which they can be used.

Of course, that is normally taken to refer to ticket restriction codes, but the way the Condition is phrased, it doesn't restrict it to such. The enforcement of tickets to a sub-set of a TOCs trains is entirely legal through this Condition (otherwise, for example, off-peak tickets would be unenforceable).
 

Agent_c

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So far, of course, all the 'legal' arguments in this thread have concerned interpretations of Condition 10. However Condition 12 states:

12. Restrictions on when you can travel
Restrictions apply to the use of some tickets (including those bought with a Railcard) in addition to/other than those in Condition 10 above such as the dates, days, and times when you can use them, and the trains in which they can be used.

Of course, that is normally taken to refer to ticket restriction codes, but the way the Condition is phrased, it doesn't restrict it to such. The enforcement of tickets to a sub-set of a TOCs trains is entirely legal through this Condition (otherwise, for example, off-peak tickets would be unenforceable).
For that to apply would there not need to be a restriction code that reads "not valid on (list of timings of GatEx services)" as the Gatwick Express brand is not in itself a "When"?
 

PermitToTravel

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The condition makes no mention of the restriction codes mechanism, and in particular does not limit the rights it confers on the industry to application by means of the restriction codes mechanism.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Condition 12 though does exclude the possibility of a penalty fare being charged though ;)
 
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