No 100: so privatisation attracts more customers

True stories from the Great Railway Disaster; A weekly chronicle of the absurdities of privatisation
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The Independent Online
One of the most common complaints caused by the break-up of the railways for privatisation is the fact that tickets issued by one company are not valid for the same route on trains operated by a rival. As more and more lines are privatised, this is becoming an increasing problem and the Mad column has received several letters about this.

David Trevor-Jones says he is "incandescent" about what has happened to him because he has frequently travelled from Waterloo to Bristol on an Alphaline South West and Wales train, and returned to Paddington, as there are so few Bristol-Waterloo trains.

However, the last time he did this, on the return journey on a Bristol- Paddington train, he had his ticket checked just after leaving and the guard told him he would have to get off at Bath because the ticket was only valid via Salisbury. He was told "this is a South Wales and West ticket, not a Great Western ticket and consequently Great Western don't get any of the money for it". He was not even offered the chance of paying an excess fare.

Despite protesting that he had done the journey five times before, he and several heavy bags were turfed off.

He ended up on an over-full train running late and having to wait at Salisbury for 79 minutes. The incandescent fellow says: "I am a dedicated rail user. I have my own consultancy and require my staff to travel by train unless it is absolutely impractical."

Now, from being the perfect rail customer, he says "you have managed to turn me into a furious critic seriously considering using the M4 next time".

All good things come to an end, and so with this series. After 100 examples of the follies, absurdities and sheer lunacies caused by rail privatisation over the past two years, we will be concluding it next week with a look back at some of the most egregious examples.