Rail commuters on track for compensation worth almost £100m

Nicholas Lewis

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Items in DT tonight which reports on a ruling from the competition appeal tribunal which says SE Trains and SWR/SWT

Millions of rail commuters are on track to receive nearly £100m in compensation after allegedly being overcharged by operators.

A Competition Tribunal ruling has given travel card holders the green light to pursue damages from two rail operators.

It is claimed that the South Western and Southeastern networks made it difficult for passengers to access cut-price tickets known as “boundary fares”.

Travel card holders are entitled to discounted fares for journeys outside of their normal commute, with the journey adjudged to start at the boundary of their season ticket.

As many as 2m people are estimated to have missed out and are owed £93m.
Exactly how 2m people are going to be reimbursed isn't explained but next step is for court proceedings so could be a big cost for the owning companies.

Presumably the Dept of T would have been aware of the action when it took over LSER.

If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of the issues here is the 78 page judgement
 
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yorkie

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I've been aware of this case for 5 years now, and it's not the only case of it's kind.

Train companies can be rather complacent and naive in railway ticketing matters and are not always good at being compliant with relevant laws, such as competition law, consumer law and contract law

Train companies have deliberately made these fares difficult to obtain, and there are many other areas in which they behave in a manner which is dubious; this is just one example (but I won't go into other examples here as this isn't the place!)

This particular transgression was first posted on this forum in February 2019: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/£100m-claim-launched-against-tocs-re-boundary-zone-tickets.178892/ I made my thoughts clear at the time; some people doubted some of the things I said in that thread. I wonder if they will have anything to say now? ;)
 

swt_passenger

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How did they even come up with an estimate of 2 million people, and do they know who they are?

I think it’s a good point of principle to win, but how can anyone possibly prove what they couldn‘t buy some years or months ago?
 

Nicholas Lewis

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How did they even come up with an estimate of 2 million people, and do they know who they are?

I think it’s a good point of principle to win, but how can anyone possibly prove what they couldn‘t buy some years or months ago?
If you poke around in the vast swathe of legal documents on the case one suggestion the range could be upto 10m but the two TOCs disputed that and came up with a smaller number - knew i should have screenshotted that page. The amount legal people quoted s vast as well costing somebody a pretty penny.


GBR will sort it all out8-)
 

Horizon22

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Think it's worthwhile to quote some of the "Factual Background" from the document (page 7 onwards)

14.Travelcards are TfL zonal tickets which allow unlimited travel on London’s public transport network. Most relevantly to the present cases, that includes not only TfL’s own services but also National Rail services within their zone of validity (but not Heathrow Express or LSER’s high-speed HS1 line). They can be issued for variable time periods and for a range of zonal combinations.

15. There are in total nine TfL travel zones, but zones 1-6 are the main zones and it is estimated that only about 1% of all Travelcards have validity beyond zone 6: see the TfL map attached as an Appendix to this judgment. None of the stations covered by the SW franchise are in zones 7-9, and within the SE franchise no stations are in zone 7 or 9 and only two are in zone 8. Therefore, for practical purposes, it is zones 1-6 that are relevant. The proceedings concern in-boundary Travelcards which are available for combinations within those main zones, as follows:
(1) Peak Travelcards are valid for travel at any time of day and available in two combinations: either for zones 1-4 or for zones 1-6;
(2) Off-peak Travelcards are valid for travel at any time after 9.30 am on weekdays and at any time on weekends and public holidays; they are available for zones 1-6 only;
(3) 7-day or longer Travelcards are valid for travel at any time and are available in any combination of two or more adjoining zones.

16. The validity of Travelcards for travel on rail services is governed by the Travelcard Agreement entered into between all TOCs, including therefore the Respondents, and a subsidiary of TfL. Under the Travelcard Agreement, the TOCs receive a share of the revenue resulting from the sale of Travelcards.

17. Point-to-point fares on the rail networks are fares for journeys between a specific origin station and a specific destination station. There is at least one point-to-point fare available for the journey between every origin and destination station in Great Britain. There is a variety of ticket types (and fares) for such point-to-point travel. Those include off-peak fares, child fares, student fares and Advance fares offered by many TOCs for purchase up to 12 weeks ahead of travel on certain routes, whereby the purchaser gets a discounted price in return for reduced flexibility.

18. Boundary Fares are a type of extension or add-on fare sold for use with a Travelcard. On the basis that a valid Travelcard will cover travel on the part of the journey to which it applies, the Boundary Fare is a charge for the journey from the outer edge of the zone to which the Travelcard applies to the customer’s destination. All three Respondents sell (or have sold) such Boundary Fares for almost all journeys originating in each TfL zone to destinations on their network. Boundary Fares are sold as single or return, peak or off-peak fares. However, they are not available for certain discounted tickets, of which the most significant are Advance fares.
 

thedbdiboy

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I've been aware of this case for 5 years now, and it's not the only case of it's kind.

Train companies can be rather complacent and naive in railway ticketing matters and are not always good at being compliant with relevant laws, such as competition law, consumer law and contract law

Train companies have deliberately made these fares difficult to obtain, and there are many other areas in which they behave in a manner which is dubious; this is just one example (but I won't go into other examples here as this isn't the place!)

This particular transgression was first posted on this forum in February 2019: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/£100m-claim-launched-against-tocs-re-boundary-zone-tickets.178892/ I made my thoughts clear at the time; some people doubted some of the things I said in that thread. I wonder if they will have anything to say now? ;)
Your first point regarding complacency and naivety is more the truth than any deliberate attempt to make these fares difficult to obtain. It is more a case that newer retail systems (TVMs, online and the still emerging world of digital ticketing) are not optimised to sell certain types of older fare, but said complacency has meant that the implications of failing to address this and adapt systems, fares or both don't get the resources they need; that is until things reach the courts, when suddenly everyone take an interest!
 

yorkie

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Your first point regarding complacency and naivety is more the truth than any deliberate attempt to make these fares difficult to obtain. It is more a case that newer retail systems (TVMs, online and the still emerging world of digital ticketing) are not optimised to sell certain types of older fare, but said complacency has meant that the implications of failing to address this and adapt systems, fares or both don't get the resources they need; that is until things reach the courts, when suddenly everyone take an interest!
Very true.

I've been warning of some potential legal repercussions on here for quote some time now but nothing much seems to change.
 

Starmill

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How did they even come up with an estimate of 2 million people, and do they know who they are?

I think it’s a good point of principle to win, but how can anyone possibly prove what they couldn‘t buy some years or months ago?
A Collective Proceedings Order is specifically designed to accommodate this kind of uncertainty, but equally it's strongly incumbent on the applicants to define their class very closely. If the Tribunal decides that the class definition is completely unsuitable they can effectively halt the claim.
 

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Cue the next fare change round and all those boundary zone fares will just disappear under the guise of making things simpler as they "too confusing for everyday passengers to understand".

Lawyers are laughing their way to the bank, as how will they track down anybody who might have been affected, overcharged & have proof of being overcharged.
 

Djgr

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Yet another example of TOCs being shareholder rather than customer focused.

Where there is an adversarial relationship it is incumbent upon customers to aggressively assert their rights.
 

Paul Jones 88

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How do you prove that you have made those journeys over the years?
Most people put their used tickets in the rubbish bin.
 

Starmill

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How do you prove that you have made those journeys over the years?
Most people put their used tickets in the rubbish bin.
It wouldn't be for an individual to prove they'd travelled or not on any specific occasion. It would just be a question of identifying people who are part of the class in or to distribute a portion of the damages to them. If the claim succeeded.
 

Kite159

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It wouldn't be for an individual to prove they'd travelled or not on any specific occasion. It would just be a question of identifying people who are part of the class in or to distribute a portion of the damages to them. If the claim succeeded.

And how would you identify those people who might have purchased say a ticket from Waterloo to Woking instead of a Boundary Zone 6 - Woking ticket when they already held a travelcard, in 2017? Paying in cash on a TVM at Waterloo station.
 

JonathanH

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And how would you identify those people who might have purchased say a ticket from Waterloo to Woking instead of a Boundary Zone 6 - Woking ticket when they already held a travelcard, in 2017? Paying in cash on a TVM at Waterloo station.
...and indeed all those people who have got away with not buying any extension ticket at all because it was too difficult.
 

swt_passenger

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And how would you identify those people who might have purchased say a ticket from Waterloo to Woking instead of a Boundary Zone 6 - Woking ticket when they already held a travelcard, in 2017? Paying in cash on a TVM at Waterloo station.
Or even people who were sold a Surbiton to Woking rather than a BZ6 to Woking, despite asking for an extension fare.

Similar ticket office tricks? have been reported for many other routes/TOCs, but how much was the average difference in price?
 

Starmill

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And how would you identify those people who might have purchased say a ticket from Waterloo to Woking instead of a Boundary Zone 6 - Woking ticket when they already held a travelcard, in 2017? Paying in cash on a TVM at Waterloo station.
Well if you remember you did that you'd be part of the class and could apply for the compensation. But thid is alo very much for the claimant to satisfy the Tribunal of.

You don't get anything like 100% of the class receiving their compensation, but you don't need to. It also depends whether the companies choose to settle or if the judgement is against them.
 

Kite159

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Well if you remember you did that you'd be part of the class and could apply for the compensation. But thid is alo very much for the claimant to satisfy the Tribunal of.

You don't get anything like 100% of the class receiving their compensation, but you don't need to. It also depends whether the companies choose to settle or if the judgement is against them.

And who will actually remember what happened many years ago before the world went crazy?

By the time the lawyers have taken their large cut you will be lucky to get 0.1% of any money which the court might decide to award.

Cue the endless radio adverts & cold callers about being missold rail tickets, something which most people will have either binned or barriers eaten the tickets at the time of use. And even if they did keep the tickets how can they prove they were missold said ticket?

Using the Surbiton example, how can they prove when they walked up to the ticket office/TVM to buy a ticket to (say) Woking they weren't asked if they had a travelcard to benefit from a BZ6 ticket if it worked out to be cheaper?

What next, a class claim that the rail industry ticket offices failed to sell split tickets when someone walked up and asked for a day return to *big city* when they could have saved money with splitting along the way?
 

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What next, a class claim that the rail industry ticket offices failed to sell split tickets when someone walked up and asked for a day return to *big city* when they could have saved money with splitting along the way?
That's not a valid comparison and is pure fantasy.

This is a serious topic.

Just because it's not possible to compensate everyone is not a valid reason for a claim to be halted.

Train companies need to be brought to account for their failings, which have been highlighted on this forum many times. If people don't understand how class action claims work or if people don't like them, well sorry but that's irrelevant.
 

Kite159

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That's not a valid comparison and is pure fantasy.

This is a serious topic.

Just because it's not possible to compensate everyone is not a valid reason for a claim to be halted.

Train companies need to be brought to account for their failings, which have been highlighted on this forum many times. If people don't understand how class action claims work or if people don't like them, well sorry but that's irrelevant.

The only winner from class action claims is the lawyers who love charging a lot of money for taking part.

The losers will be those taking part when the DFT response to claims about how hard Boundary Zone fares are to purchase by simply removing them from sale on grounds of simplicity.
 

yorkie

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The only winner from class action claims is the lawyers who love charging a lot of money for taking part.
Train companies need to be brought to account for what they have done. Customers have expressed concerns for many years over certain issues and the managers at train companies can and do read forums such as this and were aware of their failings but chose not to act.

If you have an issue with lawyers getting paid for the work they do, feel free to create a thread in General Discussion where we can debate that further,

The losers will be those taking part when the DFT response to claims about how hard Boundary Zone fares are to purchase by simply removing them from sale on grounds of simplicity.
If it was that easy to withdraw them they would surely have done it by now. Do you have evidence that class action claims result in withdrawals of products and a worsening of rights for consumers?
 

74A

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I presume any compensation payment will have to be paid by the government ?
 

ainsworth74

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Shall we just allow companies to get away with anti-consumer behaviour and potentially illegal activity because "it might be a bit hard to compensate all the relevant people" and those awful lawyer types make money too much money? Seems a slightly odd approach to take to the law...
 

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And who will actually remember what happened many years ago before the world went crazy?

By the time the lawyers have taken their large cut you will be lucky to get 0.1% of any money which the court might decide to award.

Cue the endless radio adverts & cold callers about being missold rail tickets, something which most people will have either binned or barriers eaten the tickets at the time of use. And even if they did keep the tickets how can they prove they were missold said ticket?

Using the Surbiton example, how can they prove when they walked up to the ticket office/TVM to buy a ticket to (say) Woking they weren't asked if they had a travelcard to benefit from a BZ6 ticket if it worked out to be cheaper?

What next, a class claim that the rail industry ticket offices failed to sell split tickets when someone walked up and asked for a day return to *big city* when they could have saved money with splitting along the way?
You would expect 40 - 60% of the damages to be disbursed, not 0.1%. The money left isn't permitted to be taken by the claimant. After several years of trying to pay it out the Tribunal might agree for it to be used in some other way which benefits the class. For example it might be sufficient money to pay for several stations to have step free access installed.
 

Ben_Tonbridge

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I presume any compensation payment will have to be paid by the government ?
Surely the Go Ahead Group who ran Southeastern into the ground should pay.

As a proud long-suffering commuter (and rail professional) I am very happy that this case is 'going ahead'!
 

74A

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Surely the Go Ahead Group who ran Southeastern into the ground should pay.
Not sure if they will. I would have thought it will depend on the contract with the government. Another one for the lawyers to argue over I suspect.
 

Sm5

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How do you prove that you have made those journeys over the years?
Most people put their used tickets in the rubbish bin.
I’m watching this for interest for years.
And…
I have every train, plane ticket Ive ever bought going back to September 1998.

(Ive been a collector of them)..I estimate about 2500 of each.. oh and the credit card receipt for good measure (i was too lazy to separate them).

Might finally be worth something after all, I couldnt possibly count how many times Ive had a travelcard, and a journey to/from a London Terminal to an onward destination, it must be hundreds at least, and if need be, photographs too…afterall whats the point of being a transport fan and not taking pictures.
 

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