MPs call for fans to lobby over Wembley train fare row

MP Robert Buckland at Swindon Railway Station

MP Robert Buckland at Swindon Railway Station

First published in News

SWINDON’S MPs are urging football fans to lobby First Great Western to reinstate discounted rail fares for groups travelling to see Swindon Town’s cup final game at Wembley.

Group Save tickets previously available to First Great Western customers have been withdrawn on Sunday, March 25, meaning groups of fans travelling from Swindon to Paddington will not be able to get the usual discount.

The Swindon-based operator said the tickets had been withdrawn to prevent overcrowding but cheap ticket options were still available.

Robert Buckland, South Swindon MP, said he asked the firm to reverse the decision and lay on extra trains but he has so far been told “no”.

Now he and North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson are urging supporters to bombard the customer services department at First Great Western with complaints to bring about a U-turn.

Mr Buckland said: “If people want to voice their concerns then it would be a good idea to lobby the company. Just appeal to reason, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable approach to take. People with concerns should make the company aware of that. It’s a company that offers a public service and the public has every right to contact them with their concerns.”

Mr Buckland said the operator would not comply with his plea to reverse the decision, so the cheapest adult return would be £41, meaning some fans would probably hire coaches.

He said the firm plans to provide eight carriages, instead of the normal seven, but will still only run two trains an hour due to works planned by Network Rail, which are hard to rearrange.

Mr Buckland said: “The impression I got was they didn’t seem to think they had much discretion to lower prices and I think they view the £41 return as offering the best possible value to travel a 160-mile round trip between Swindon and Paddington.

“I think when you have got potentially huge demand and you have got groups, you need to take the opportunity and use the discretion and encourage people onto the trains.”

Mr Tomlinson also joined his call to fans, and added: “It will hopefully highlight to First Great Western how much potential business they could be missing out on.”

After the news broke on Friday, angry fans vented their frustration on the Adver website.

James Mullard, of Old Town, pointed out that the train to London is overcrowded as a norm and complained about another discount being removed recently.

He said: “I commute to Paddington and then on to Old Street and back every day from Swindon.

“Pretty much every day, especially coming home the trains are completely rammed full of people standing in the aisles.

“To say they have made this decision to prevent overcrowding is beyond insulting – it’s clearly to squeeze more money out of people.”

Last week, a spokesman for First Great Western said: “Group Save tickets help fill seats on otherwise quiet services.

“When a service looks like it will be close to capacity, the Group Save discounts are removed to avoid overcrowding, however super off peak tickets are available.

“We’re looking at large numbers of Swindon fans travelling on our service that day, so we urge any Swindon fans thinking of travelling by train to book early.”

If you would like to complain to First Great Western about the removal of group discounts from services on March 25, contact its customers service team by visiting firstgreatwestern.co.uk/About-Us/Customer-services/Contact-us.

Comments (16)

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8:48pm Sun 12 Feb 12

Antonio Lorusso says...

Well at least the politicians aren't advocating a knee jerk reaction regulation. So I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies. But if I wanted to lobby a company I don't need to be forced to pay someone to suggest that to me.
Well at least the politicians aren't advocating a knee jerk reaction regulation. So I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies. But if I wanted to lobby a company I don't need to be forced to pay someone to suggest that to me. Antonio Lorusso
  • Score: 0

9:16pm Sun 12 Feb 12

Wigmeister says...

Magnificent bit of arm-folding by Mr Buckland there.
Magnificent bit of arm-folding by Mr Buckland there. Wigmeister
  • Score: 0

9:38pm Sun 12 Feb 12

dmw1984 says...

any chance you could ask them to lower their fares across the board as a whole, espcially in the morning? £235 a month so I can get to Bath everyday is pain the bum.
any chance you could ask them to lower their fares across the board as a whole, espcially in the morning? £235 a month so I can get to Bath everyday is pain the bum. dmw1984
  • Score: 0

6:31am Mon 13 Feb 12

montgomery burns says...

What is this a revolt Mr buckland The people will pay,Excellent smithers
What is this a revolt Mr buckland The people will pay,Excellent smithers montgomery burns
  • Score: 0

7:36am Mon 13 Feb 12

Robfm says...

If FGW aren't reapplying for the franchise I guess they could care a less whether they receive 1 or 1000 letters of complaint.
If FGW aren't reapplying for the franchise I guess they could care a less whether they receive 1 or 1000 letters of complaint. Robfm
  • Score: 0

8:47am Mon 13 Feb 12

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

I think you'll find FGW are re-applying for the franchise.

What they didn't do was take the optional short term extension thus making the franchise renewal happen sooner.
I think you'll find FGW are re-applying for the franchise. What they didn't do was take the optional short term extension thus making the franchise renewal happen sooner. LordAshOfTheBrake
  • Score: 0

8:52am Mon 13 Feb 12

A.Baron-Cohen says...

Nice to see our MPs spending time and energy on such important issues...........
Nice to see our MPs spending time and energy on such important issues........... A.Baron-Cohen
  • Score: 0

9:10am Mon 13 Feb 12

Robfm says...

Thank you Lord for your clarification.
Thank you Lord for your clarification. Robfm
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Mon 13 Feb 12

itsamess says...

The re-franchise will tie in with the electrified routes. FGW are not silly.
The re-franchise will tie in with the electrified routes. FGW are not silly. itsamess
  • Score: 0

4:54pm Mon 13 Feb 12

Jim Royle says...

A Tory MP whose party flogged off the railways telling fans to complain. How ironic. Along with every other public service they sold the customer gets ripped off.
A Tory MP whose party flogged off the railways telling fans to complain. How ironic. Along with every other public service they sold the customer gets ripped off. Jim Royle
  • Score: 0

5:17am Tue 14 Feb 12

M-Y-O-B says...

I'm so glad I was so organised and booked our group's tickets when we got home from the match v Barnet, Only £22 each!!!!
Have fun on the coaches...
I'm so glad I was so organised and booked our group's tickets when we got home from the match v Barnet, Only £22 each!!!! Have fun on the coaches... M-Y-O-B
  • Score: 0

6:39pm Tue 14 Feb 12

Suindone says...

Mr Buckland and Mr Tomlinson "urging supporters to bombard the customer services department at First Great Western with complaints". It seems a great idea! We should make sure that when we write to FGW the advice comes from our MPs! "Dear FGW we are **** off about your sardine style service and your daylight robbery prices. Our MPs told us so..." Hold on a minute! Ask yourself what is it that brings together our two Swindon MPs on such a populist issue!
Mr Buckland and Mr Tomlinson "urging supporters to bombard the customer services department at First Great Western with complaints". It seems a great idea! We should make sure that when we write to FGW the advice comes from our MPs! "Dear FGW we are **** off about your sardine style service and your daylight robbery prices. Our MPs told us so..." Hold on a minute! Ask yourself what is it that brings together our two Swindon MPs on such a populist issue! Suindone
  • Score: 0

6:52pm Tue 14 Feb 12

Suindone says...

Is it the old "You watch my back, I wash yours" Tory, Big Industry pleasuring policies? "On 15 February 2010, FirstGroup was announced as preferred bidder for the provision of bus and coach services for the London 2012 Olympic Games. This will involve the provision of venue shuttle and park and ride services, services connecting peripheral park and ride sites on the M25 with the Olympic Park and Ebbsfleet, and a nationwide network of express coaches to the Olympic Park and the Weymouth and Portland sailing venue. The services will require around 900 vehicles in total, although some will be sub-contracted"
Is it the old "You watch my back, I wash yours" Tory, Big Industry pleasuring policies? "On 15 February 2010, FirstGroup was announced as preferred bidder for the provision of bus and coach services for the London 2012 Olympic Games. This will involve the provision of venue shuttle and park and ride services, services connecting peripheral park and ride sites on the M25 with the Olympic Park and Ebbsfleet, and a nationwide network of express coaches to the Olympic Park and the Weymouth and Portland sailing venue. The services will require around 900 vehicles in total, although some will be sub-contracted" Suindone
  • Score: 0

7:19pm Tue 14 Feb 12

Suindone says...

First Group(owners of FGW) want to pull out of the franchise in 2013 because "the economic landscape and revenue expectations underpinning the original bid had changed hugely since the contract was signed in 2006" In lemming terms for me and you it means that a-they want out to avoid £826.6m in payments to the government due by 2016. b-their "big plan" has changed. This can create enormous political damage to the government which has no other bidders ready but also put First Group in an advantageous position to black mail the government for more independence (Oooops) which was quickly obtained from the rail minister, Theresa Villiers, who said as long as First Group re-franchises, "the DfT will draw up a new contract in line with government proposals for longer franchises that give more power to rail operators, as well as incorporating (their)recommendatio
ns".
(like stealing sweets from little kids)
Villiers said: "The Department for Transport had always anticipated that the Great Western franchise could end in 2013 (yeah you thought so...) and had catered for this eventuality in its refranchising programme. First Great Western's decision will not effect the provision of services on their network." yeah as long as you muppets pay your masters with our money!!! And this is why Mr Buckland and Mr Tomlinson are all up in arms have to play the scorned wives in this saga of backhanders and party politics.
First Group(owners of FGW) want to pull out of the franchise in 2013 because "the economic landscape and revenue expectations underpinning the original bid had changed hugely since the contract was signed in 2006" In lemming terms for me and you it means that a-they want out to avoid £826.6m in payments to the government due by 2016. b-their "big plan" has changed. This can create enormous political damage to the government which has no other bidders ready but also put First Group in an advantageous position to black mail the government for more independence (Oooops) which was quickly obtained from the rail minister, Theresa Villiers, who said as long as First Group re-franchises, "the DfT will draw up a new contract in line with government proposals for longer franchises that give more power to rail operators, as well as incorporating (their)recommendatio ns". (like stealing sweets from little kids) Villiers said: "The Department for Transport had always anticipated that the Great Western franchise could end in 2013 (yeah you thought so...) and had catered for this eventuality in its refranchising programme. First Great Western's decision will not effect the provision of services on their network." yeah as long as you muppets pay your masters with our money!!! And this is why Mr Buckland and Mr Tomlinson are all up in arms have to play the scorned wives in this saga of backhanders and party politics. Suindone
  • Score: 0

2:55pm Wed 15 Feb 12

SAGACREW69 says...

Its not just the issue of group savers being removed.They also increased the standard fares.My return ticket cost £27.50 on the 9th Feb - 4 days later it had increased to £38.00

Supply and demand or Just plain greedy?
Its not just the issue of group savers being removed.They also increased the standard fares.My return ticket cost £27.50 on the 9th Feb - 4 days later it had increased to £38.00 Supply and demand or Just plain greedy? SAGACREW69
  • Score: 0

3:30pm Wed 15 Feb 12

Suindone says...

Despite all, swindonians should make the most of this advice from our MPs
and we should ask FGW to reverse the decision and lay on extra trains for the event.

I urge supporters to to send e-mails of complains to customer services department at First Great Western stating that their decision is disgraceful, lets the Town down and we want their decision overturned. Please do it at http://www.firstgrea
twestern.co.uk/About
-Us/Customer-service
s/Contact-us
Despite all, swindonians should make the most of this advice from our MPs and we should ask FGW to reverse the decision and lay on extra trains for the event. I urge supporters to to send e-mails of complains to customer services department at First Great Western stating that their decision is disgraceful, lets the Town down and we want their decision overturned. Please do it at http://www.firstgrea twestern.co.uk/About -Us/Customer-service s/Contact-us Suindone
  • Score: 0

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