Letter: Not quite the ticket

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The Independent Culture
Sir: If George Muir of the Association of Train Operating Companies really believes that there is a "significant improvement in the accuracy of information provided to travellers by the train companies" (letter, 1 May), he should try finding out from Virgin Trains which fares operate on which trains and when.

I have asked three ticket collectors, two booking office clerks and Virgin's headquarters for a tabular statement of which fares are available on which trains- entirely without success. Indeed, both booking clerks told me that they had been warned not to give passengers this kind of information.

Meanwhile, American Express has published a simple A4 tabular statement for business people working between Manchester and London providing exactly these data.

Perhaps Mr Muir might help to provide answers to the following questions. On which trains are Virgin Value tickets available? How many seats are allocated for these tickets on those trains? Why is it that whenever one telephones to book such a seat, none is available? How is it possible to phone for a ticket, be quoted a fare, and ring the same number 20 minutes later and be quoted a lower fare?

Information of this kind might explain some of the more frustrating experiences I have had with this supposedly public service in recent weeks.


Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire