Transport Focus (formerly Passenger Focus) | 29 June 2016 said:Mrs H purchased off-peak tickets ahead of her journey from Glasgow Central to Edinburgh Waverley. Whilst travelling, however, the ticket inspector told her that the tickets were incorrect, and made Mrs H fill out a notice with a £37 fare to pay later. The inspector said that if she did not agree to this the British Transport Police would be called to remove Mrs H and her family members from the train.
Mrs H felt that she had no alternative but to fill out the notice. When she arrived in Edinburgh, she asked the duty manager for advice and was told that her tickets were in fact valid to begin with and she should not have been issued a notice. She later contacted Scotrail to double check that the guidance she was given by the duty manager was correct and to request compensation. Scotrail responded that the inspector had been questioned in line with their internal staff procedures, but that it would not offer compensation, despite apologising for her distress.
Mrs H got in touch with Transport Focus, as she was not satisfied with the outcome of her complaint. We contacted Scotrail to ask that a goodwill gesture be offered to Mrs H and that an investigation into the conduct of the inspector be carried out. Scotrail confirmed that the matter had been reviewed and decided to overturn the notice, as Mrs H’s tickets were indeed valid for the journey she was making. In spite of this however, ScotRail would still not consider offering a gesture of goodwill as the report logged by the ticket inspector said that Mrs H had shown a different ticket to the one she purchased for the journey.
Transport Focus met with Scotrail to escalate this case however the answer remained the same and Scotrail was unwilling to offer compensation. We were disappointed that we could not achieve Mrs H’s desired outcome of a goodwill gesture for her experience with Scotrail, however we were happy that Mrs H was not penalised in the end.
Worst of all is the conclusion. "We were happy that Mrs H was not penalised in the end." Having held a valid ticket, how is not being penalised after pursuing a thorough complaint a "happy" outcome!? :roll:
Particularly worrying is that the railway employees at Edinburgh Waverley acknowledged that Mrs H's ticket was valid. In view of the typical level of training on the subject of ticket validity across the railway network, the ticket Mrs H held can hardly have been complex. What would have happened if the ticket she held, or the route she was using, was more complicated?
Also, according to Transport Focus, Scotrail "decided to overturn the notice" when it replied to Transport Focus. This implies that up until this point it had refused to overturn the notice. If this is true, Scotrail's behaviour is appalling.
Finally, "the ticket inspector said that Mrs H had shown a different ticket to the one she purchased for the journey". What is the evidence for this? Did the ticket inspector make a record of and/or photograph the ticket presented by Mrs H? Or is it simply Mrs H's word against the ticket inspector? If the latter, how is this acceptable?
This whole incident demonstrates that Transport Focus is impotent. Futile. Worthless. Either the ORR needs to take over Transport Focus' rail passenger disputes remit with the addition of statutorily enforceable powers, or the powers of train operating companies need to be taken down a peg to put them on a level playing field with passengers.