Fylde MP questions Rail Minister over Virgin Rail pricing

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has written to the Rail Minister asking for clarification over Virgin Rail’s West Coast Main Line pricing structure, ahead of a meeting today with the rail firm.

Mr Menzies has vowed to bring an end to the situation which sees passengers from Preston paying up to four times as much as those from Lancaster to use the same trains to London.

Mr Menzies wrote to ask the Secretary of State for Transport “What recent discussions he has had with Virgin Trains on consistency in ticket pricing within their franchise terms.”

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard – the rail minister, told him: “I regularly meet with all train operators including Virgin Trains and always interested in passenger benefit and value for money.

“Fares are made of regulated and unregulated fares. In general the fares that are regulated include commuter fares (in major cities), some weekly, monthly or annual season tickets, day singles and returns as well as some protected fares like long-distance off-peak return fares (formerly Saver Returns).

“Train operators set the price of rail fares within the framework set by the government, which places a limit on the maximum amount by which average regulated fares are permitted to rise in any single year. From 2016 to 2020 this limit will be set at RPI (Retail Price Index) plus 0 per cent.

“Other fares are unregulated, and train operators are permitted to set these on a commercial basis, taking account of competition from other transport modes and the need to attract business in order to grow their revenue.”

A ticket on the 08.38 service from Lancaster to London on February 10, returning at 17.57 cost £93.20. But the journey on the same train, starting and ending from Preston, one stop closer to London, was priced £320.50 on February 8.

Those purchasing tickets from Lancaster are not allowed to get on the train at Preston.

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