Passengers given wrong advice on rail fares

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A majority of rail passengers phoning National Rail's inquiry helpline have faced paying up to twice as much as they should for rail tickets because the advice was wrong, according to research released today.

A report published by Which? shows that the phone line gave accurate advice on just 10 out of 25 inquiries. In one example, the price of a single ticket from London to Grantham in Lincolnshire, was quoted as £44.50, although a train leaving 10 minutes earlier, would cost just £20.

The report's author, James Tallack, said that half of the call centres were in India and, for the service to be effective, there needed to be extensive training and a dramatic improvement to their database.

The Which? report advises consumers to visit the National Rail website for reliable advice.

A National Rail spokesman rejected the report's findings, insisting that the advice was accurate. He said: "The results from such a small sample cannot claim to be representative."