Sadly, we broke up before the trip and I decided to go on my own to clear my head.

I was worried that the ticket wouldn't be valid now that I was going alone so I rang Great Western Railway to ask what to do.

The man on the phone told me that it would be fine so long as I brought the other ticket with me, which I did.

But on the train I was challenged by the ticket inspector, who insisted the railcard wasn't valid without my ex.

When I got home I received a letter ordering me to pay a £208 fine.

If I didn't pay within three weeks the fine would jump by a further £80 and I might even be issued with a court summons, it said.

I've tried to appeal, but GWR is insisting I pay.

Yet I've found out that it would have cost me just £8 to upgrade my ticket so that it was valid without the railcard.

Of course I'd have happily paid this if I'd been given the right advice in the first place.

Can you sort this out?

Alexandra Long, London

Leah Milner replies: How horrible to be treated like a fare-dodger when you had really tried to do the right thing.

Especially as you were trying to get over a break-up at the time.

While the conditions of the railcard do state that "you must travel together" (see 4.4) in order for your tickets to be valid, you're far from the only one to get caught out.

There are so many reasons why the other passenger might not be able to travel at the last minute and rail firms should take a more common sense approach.

What if the other person is sick or there's an emergency and they aren't able to rebook a new ticket in time?

Emma was annoyed to find she couldn't use the railcard without her husband, even though it was down to rail disruption that he couldn't travel with her:


And others like Tim and Jamie, were annoyed that they couldn't use their railcards when their travel buddies fell unexpectedly ill:

A spokeswoman for National Rail said: "In order for a Two Together Railcard discount to be valid the two named cardholders must travel together for the entire journey.

"Discounted tickets must be bought for both cardholders at the same time, and they must travel together."

She added: "If one of the two named people doesn’t travel then both of the tickets will cease to be valid. A refund may be obtained from the original retailer or Train Company from whom it was purchased, unless the terms and conditions of the ticket indicate that it is non-refundable."

When I asked her to clarify whether this was the case when one passenger was prevented from travelling due to illness, emergency, rail disruption elsewhere in the network or any other circumstance beyond their control, she insisted that the policy still stood.

I can understand that there need to be restrictions to prevent people misusing discount cards, but this seems like an astonishingly unforgiving line to take.

In your case, GWR had the opportunity to put things right but, it took my involvement for the company to look at your case again and take a more human approach.

I'm pleased to say that it has now agreed to stop pursuing you for this fine.

A spokesman said: "We have reviewed the case and it's clear we got this one wrong.

"As a result, we are writing to Ms Long to apologise and let her know we have closed this case.

"We are sending her two First Class passes for a return journey on our network by way of apology and will be reviewing this incident internally to avoid it happening again."

You confirmed you were happy with this outcome.

So one question remains…

Who will you be sharing your First Class minibreak with?

How to fight an unfair rail fine

  • Start your complaint by contacting the rail company involved.
  • If you're not happy with the response then you can take your case to Transport Focus, the independent passenger watchdog.
  • Passengers who forget their railcards and are charged a penalty fare or have to buy a new ticket can now claim this back. The refund applies to one claim per year, and you must be able to show proof of your railcard to the train company to qualify.
  • Make sure you always keep your ticket if you have an issue on  your journey. Speak to a member of staff and ask to keep your ticket rather than putting it through the ticket barrier.
  • Always keep the receipts issued with your tickets.
  • Take photos to back up your case – for example if you can't buy a ticket before you board because of a broken ticket machine or a closed ticket office. This way, you’ll have evidence if someone doubts your word.
  • A new rail ombudsman with the power to hold train companies to account will launch at the end of November. If a train company rejects your complaint, you'll be able to escalate it to the ombudsman straight away. Where the ombudsman chooses to investigate, its decision will be binding on the train company.

Do you need our help with a customer service gripe or money dilemma? Email us at [email protected] and don't forget to include a daytime phone number. If you're complaining about a particular company, please include a line to say you give the firm in question permission to speak to The Sun about your case so that we can look into it for you. We cannot take any legal responsibility for the guidance given and it does not constitute financial advice.

Source: Read Full Article