Cheap train tickets: Want the best deal? Find them yourself, says First Great Western

Email exchange reportedly shows company claiming it is 'unrealistic' to expect staff to always offer tickets at the best price

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The Independent Travel

One of the UK's largest train operators has received criticism after saying it is on the passenger to find the cheapest rail tickets – not the rail companies.

In an email exchange seen by The Telegraph, First Great Western (FGW) said it is company policy for station staff is to assume passengers had already researched the cheapest routes prior to getting to the ticket office, and that it was "unrealistic" to expect staff to always offer tickets at the best price.

The email also said that staff are "under no obligation to offer anything other than what has been asked for... it therefore remains the passenger’s responsibility to ensure they’re asking for the fare that is best for their particular requirements".

In light of this, rail minister Claire Perry said: "Train companies must get better at giving their customers information about ticket options in a straightforward way. I will not hesitate to hold operators to account if they do not take this issue seriously."

Lobby groups also criticised FGW, saying that the hiding behind "loose regulations" so that they don’t have to help customers find a better deal is "shameful".

Generally, train tickets can vary dependent upon a range of factors, including the route travelled, time of day or the operator the ticket has been purchased through.

First Great Western said that a customer received a response to a complaint that was inaccurate and "does not reflect" the company's policy.

A spokesperson said: "Our ticket office staff should always do their best to find out as much about a customer's journey as possible so they can sell the most appropriate ticket for their needs.

"Our response should have reflected this, and it looks very likely that this customer is due a full apology and a refund. We have reopened this customer's complaint and will be investigating further."