Flood profiteering claims "nonsense" says train firm

27-07-2007

Flood profiteering claims
Britain's biggest train company has rubbished reports it overcharged customers during the UK's recent flood crisis.

According to the Times, South West Trains had been issuing passengers with more expensive rail tickets to travel via London to avoid routes closed due to the flooding.

But a spokeswoman for the rail firm said the newspaper's claims were "nonsense".

"South West Trains has done everything possible to help passengers of other operators affected by the floods," she said.

Torrential rain caused widespread flooding across England and Wales last week, leading to the closure of train lines to Oxford via Reading.

This meant that passengers who would have usually travelled on Virgin trains would be compelled to reach their destination by travelling via London.

In today's Times report, it was claimed that managers had instructed South West Trains staff to only sell customers the more expensive tickets via the UK capital rather than the cheaper, but closed, route via Reading.

An unnamed guard told the newspaper: "We were very surprised because train companies have a longstanding gentlemen's agreement to accept each other's passengers in emergencies without making them pay more."

But South West Trains hit back in a statement that said: "All week we have been carrying First Great Western passengers to the west country and Virgin Cross Country passengers who would normally travel north through Reading.

"To suggest we were not doing that is not true, as any passenger who has found themselves on these exceptionally busy trains will vouch."

But a spokeswoman did admit there was "some confusion" at booking offices over whether it was "appropriate" to sell a new ticket for a route that was officially shut.

"However we took the decision that we would continue to offer these tickets if they were the cheapest option for a passenger and we have taken steps to reinforce this message to our staff," she said.


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