Computer glitch angers Westbury rail passengers

This Is Wiltshire: Rail campaigner Graham Ellis, left, with MP Duncan Hames at the launch of the expanded TransWilts service on December 9 Rail campaigner Graham Ellis, left, with MP Duncan Hames at the launch of the expanded TransWilts service on December 9

A computer glitch that increased train fares a month after a much-heralded expanded rail service was introduced has caused anger this week.

The Wiltshire Times has been contacted by commuters who had to pay the full fare on the new First Great Western TransWilts line from Westbury to Swindon yesterday, despite assurances it would be available at a reduced rate.

When the number of trains on the cross-county service was expanded on December 9 provision was made for reduced fares for trains via Melksham, rather than Bath, but a national computer error this week has removed this discount.

One passenger who got in touch said: “After all the recent news articles published about how great the new TransWilts train service between Westbury and Swindon is, and about how a ticket via Melksham is cheaper, it was disappointing to have to pay the full fare.

“Most disappointing was a passenger who was trying the train as alternative to the car for the first time. When faced with having to pay double the amount for his ticket than when he checked the previous night he was obviously annoyed and plans 'never to attempt to use trains again'.”

The issue is being investigated, with a solution expected by the end of the week.

Graham Ellis, chairman of the TransWilts Community Partnership, said: “The reduced fare was introduced with great fanfare on December 9, and the intention is it is permanent.

“Unfortunately the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to change the algorithms for the way the fare rises work for the new year, so they dropped out of the system two or three days ago.

“They are being put back in as we speak, but that requires a sign-off from the Department of Transport, which I would imagine would happen in a matter of days.

"I’ve been contacted by First; they’re not sure how long it will take to get the system active again, but they have arranged for the staff to manually override the system, so people can now buy at the reduced rate.

“The staff all know there is an issue, and they have been instructed to issue the lower price tickets.

“Anyone affected can still contact me at the rail partnership. We are purely volunteers but we know the right people to talk to. We have the contacts and we are being kept fully informed.”

For further details about the fare problem email info@twcrp.org.uk

Comments (1)

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12:37pm Thu 9 Jan 14

grahame says...

The new fares (for example about 39 pounds rather that 71 for a week's season from Westbury to Swindon via Melksham) are permanent. The new fares were introduced at the same time that the Chancellor changed the rules (at short notice) for the January rises, and in the resulting scramble the new fares weren't carried forward. Only when problems were experienced within the last 48 hours did the problem come to light.

a) If you have overpaid, you can get a refund of the difference

b) If you ask for the new, lower, via Melksham fares you should be given them again. A temporary way of doing this has been put in place while the system gets sorted out for good - at that point they'll be shown online again too.

A lower, "via Melksham" set of fares is a permanent arrangement - my thanks to First for confirming it this morning to me, and taking fast steps to ensure the fare is available again. Sorry to anyone who has been 'caught' by the teething glitch - please try the TransWits again (it really can save you time and money, so saying "never again" will cost you just as it will cost the community if the service is not used!)
The new fares (for example about 39 pounds rather that 71 for a week's season from Westbury to Swindon via Melksham) are permanent. The new fares were introduced at the same time that the Chancellor changed the rules (at short notice) for the January rises, and in the resulting scramble the new fares weren't carried forward. Only when problems were experienced within the last 48 hours did the problem come to light. a) If you have overpaid, you can get a refund of the difference b) If you ask for the new, lower, via Melksham fares you should be given them again. A temporary way of doing this has been put in place while the system gets sorted out for good - at that point they'll be shown online again too. A lower, "via Melksham" set of fares is a permanent arrangement - my thanks to First for confirming it this morning to me, and taking fast steps to ensure the fare is available again. Sorry to anyone who has been 'caught' by the teething glitch - please try the TransWits again (it really can save you time and money, so saying "never again" will cost you just as it will cost the community if the service is not used!) grahame
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