True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme; No 28: So, you used the wrong ticket machine?
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MORRIS GRAHAM went on a day trip from London to Brighton with a group of friends. On the way back, on the 23.00 train, the passengers for London were told to change at Gatwick. On the Gatwick Express Mr Graham and his friends were asked to show their tickets. Some, but not all, the group were were then charged a pounds 1.40 excess fare.

All had paid pounds 11.90 at Victoria that morning for their day returns. However, one group bought their tickets from one of the booths in the station. A second lot, those with the right change, bought them from ticket machines. And a third group, the unlucky ones, bought them from a different ticket booth. It was only when the inspector on the Gatwick Express checked the tickets that Mr Graham noticed that some of the return tickets were marked "London Brit Rail not Gatwick Express" while the others were marked simply "London Brit Rail".

When Mr Graham asked why some of his friends were being charged pounds 1. 40 extra for the same journey as him, the inspector said "that the discrepancy should be taken up with the company which sold us the tickets".

"Needless to say," says Mr Graham, "it is not possible to tell which comany you are purchasing tickets from at Victoria," and no one had warned any of the travellers that their tickets would not be valid on some trains. The tickets do not indicate which company has sold them.