The day commuters were taken for a free ride

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The Independent Online
Commuters were given free tickets at Waterloo station yesterday after their journeys to work were disrupted when a privatised train company cut 71 drivers, writes Fran Abrams.

Thousands of travellers on South West Trains were given a free day's travel or season ticket extension. But few passengers said the disruption would affect the way they would vote at the general election.

Paul Malaure, a marketing manager from Gosport, said transport was not an issue for him; he would vote for the party which would raise his disposable income.

Janet Hill, a secretary who works in Portsmouth, said: "Some things should be in the hands of the Government, and the rail service is one of them. These people will walk away and leave them in a mess," she said.

The offer from Brian Souter, chairman of Stagecoach, which took over the company last year, followed the cancellation of 200 trains this week in London, Surrey and Hampshire.

Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid