The operator behind Southern Rail and Thameslink could be forced to pay £73million in compensation after being accused of overcharging customers.

Govia Thameslink Railway passengers claim that they have almost doubled their travel costs because so-called boundary fares’ don’t exist.

Boundary tickets are those fares that a person pays for to use a particular travel zone, like London. This means they only have to pay the travel cost to get to another destination.

However, campaigners assert that GTR travellers with London Travelcards were routinely charged for their entire trip. It means they paid twice as much for their travel. 

They are now suing GTR for compensation, claiming that GTR also runs the Gatwick Express and should have provided discounted tickets to those who used London Travelcards. 

Consumer campaigner Justin Gutmann, who is bringing the case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, is already challenging two other rail operators over the same issue.

He explained that this was just the latest part of my campaign to end routine overcharging for millions of passengers, by Britain’s most prominent rail operators.

The operator behind Southern Rail (pictured: Library image of a Southern Railway train) and Thameslink could be forced to pay £73million in compensation after being accused of overcharging customers

The operator behind Southern Rail (pictured: Library image of a Southern Railway train) and Thameslink could be forced to pay £73million in compensation after being accused of overcharging customers

Is there a claim that GTR is being lied to? 

Justin Gutmann is a consumer campaigner and was a London Tube driver. He also worked as a head researcher for Citizens Advice.

London: A Travelcard is a card that allows unlimited travel via London’s public transport system. You can get it for one, seven or more consecutive days. Regular commuters also have the option to receive it for travel for any length of time, from one month up to one year.  

You can use Travelcards to travel in certain areas, such as London Zones 1 & 4. 

In London, a Travelcard provides unlimited travel on London's public transport network and can be issued for travel on any one day, seven consecutive days or for regular commuters, any period between one month and a year

London: A Travelcard is a card that allows unlimited travel via London’s public transport system. You can get it for one, seven or more consecutive days. Regular commuters also have the option to travel for up to one year.

However, Mr Gutmann believes that if someone has a valid Travelcard and wants to travel outside of London they shouldn’t have to pay beyond the Zone boundary.

Gutman states that anyone traveling from London Waterloo, to Reading using a Zones 4 or 5 Travelcard shouldn’t have to pay beyond the Zone 4 border. In this instance, Southall station would be the location.

However, he claimed that millions of people purchased tickets to cover the entire trip. That means that they basically paid twice the price for the travel from Waterloo to Southall.

Gutmann alleged that rail companies did not make the ‘boundary tickets’ available enough for Travelcard holders to purchase, or made passengers fully aware about their existence.

The lawyers representing Mr Gutmann claim that they have conducted research and found such fares not easily available online or via telephone. They also say that these fares rarely are offered at the ticket counters, unless specifically requested. 

They claim that boundary fares could have been used to benefit from approximately 240 million trips since November 2015.

This claim claims that there was a violation of UK competition rules (s. 18 of the Competition Act 1998) and market power abuse.

 

The scandalous failure by these companies to provide more access to boundary fares has gone on for years. 

“It must be stopped – passengers who overpaid should receive compensation.”

Last month, Mr Gutmann secured legal approval to bring to trial collective actions seeking compensation worth up to £93 million against two other rail operators, the South Western and Southeastern rail franchises, over the issue of boundary fares.

Gutmann was a head researcher for Citizens Advice and claims that the claim is about Travelcards.

London: A Travelcard is a card that allows unlimited travel via London’s public transport system. You can get it for one, seven or more consecutive days. Regular commuters also have the option to receive the Travelcard for travel for any length of time, from one month up to one year.  

Also, Travelcards may be used to provide coverage for certain zones, like a Travelcard London Zones 1-4. 

However, Mr Gutmann believes that if someone has a valid Travelcard and wants to travel outside of London they shouldn’t have to pay beyond the Zone boundary.

Gutman states that anyone traveling from London Waterloo, to Reading using a Zones 4 or 5 Travelcard shouldn’t have to pay beyond the Zone 4 border. In this instance, Southall station would be the location.

However, he claimed that millions of people purchased tickets to cover the entire trip. That means they basically paid twice the price for the travel from Waterloo to Southall.

Gutmann alleged that rail companies did not make the ‘boundary tickets’ available enough for Travelcard holders to purchase, or made passengers aware of them.

In Mr Gutmann’s case, lawyers representing him claim that research shows such tickets aren’t readily available over the internet or by telephone. They are also rare to be offered at ticket counters without being specifically requested. 

They claim that boundary fares could have been used to benefit from approximately 240 million trips since November 2015.

This claim claims that there was a violation of UK competition rules (s. 18 of the Competition Act 1998) and an abuse market power.

GTR disputes this claim and claims that they are ‘committed’ to providing customers with the best value airfares. 

A GTR spokesperson said: ‘Millions of journeys are made every week on GTR’s rail networks and we are committed to providing the best value fare to every passenger.

“We find this claim flawed. We dispute all of the claims contained within. We are going to vigorously defend our position. 

GTR operates various subsidies in the UK. They include Southern which services destinations like Brighton, Hastings Portsmouth, Southampton and Eastbourne.

Thameslink connects London’s main commuter lines to London, linking Brighton, St Albans (Bedford), East Grinstead and Luton Airport.

Campaigners claim more than 3million passengers of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which also runs Thameslink (pictured: Library image)  have essentially double paid for parts of their journeys because so-called 'boundary fares' are not made readily available

Campaigners claim more than 3million passengers of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which also runs Thameslink (pictured: Library image)  have essentially double paid for parts of their journeys because so-called ‘boundary fares’ are not made readily available

Now retired Mr Gutmann worked previously for London Underground for 8 years, before becoming the head of Citizens’ Advice research.

Charles Lyndon and Hausfeld and Co. jointly represent him in his opt-out collective case.  

A collective claim can be filed under the 2015 Act on behalf of several individuals who have been allegedly to have suffered an identical loss. 

These customers may instead be compensated through a single collective claim made on behalf of them by Mr Gutmann. 

According to legal experts, any passenger who bought a train fare using a Travelcard from 24 Nov 2015 or later and purchased it from a station in the Travelcard’s zones but not the destination they were going to may be eligible for compensation under The Consumer Rights Act (2015 Act).

Who is eligible and what is the claim? 

According to the 2015 Act, a collective claim may be made on behalf of an entire group of people who were alleged have suffered a similar loss. 

Instead of receiving compensation, all these customers may be eligible for compensation via a single collective claim made on behalf of them by Mr Gutmann. 

The Legal Group claims that passengers who bought a train fare using their Travelcard from within the Travelcard’s zones to travel outside of those areas may be eligible for compensation under Consumer Rights Act 2015.