London-bound commuters forced to stand in the first class carriage because there was no room in the rest of the train have been fined by the company.
Southern Rail ticket inspectors reportedly fined passengers standing in the first class carriage of a morning Surrey to London service £20 as the travellers did not have the correct tickets for the service.
The company holds the dubious honour of the second-worst punctuality record in 2014/15 – while commuters continue to pay some of the highest fares in the country. Its 7.29 Brighton to London train was late every day for a year.
The latest upset emerged after Oxted commuter Peter Boyland wrote to newly re-elected MPs Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah to complain after he saw ticket inspectors fining passengers on the 7.36am Oxted to London Bridge service on 22 April.
@kevinru54982210 If you are in First Class with a standard class ticket then you are right to be fined. ^Greg— SouthernRailUK (@SouthernRailUK) April 22, 2015
"The train was so packed in fact that the 'revenue officers' were unable to pass through to me to check my ticket, despite my clear proximity to them,” he said in a letter to Mr Gyimah.
"This is a fine example of the attitude of Southern, who only seem concerned about protecting their revenue, and less about providing an acceptable level of service."
However, a Southern Rail spokesperson defended the fines, telling the Surrey Mirror that passengers would have been fined either £20 or twice the price of a single fare – whatever was greater.
"In this instance, passengers who were issued with penalty fares were sitting in first class accommodation whilst holding standard class tickets. First class accommodation is not declassified automatically if the train is busy, but Conductors can use their discretion to declassify if it is deemed necessary," the spokesperson told The Independent.