First Great Western Accused Of 'Daylight Robbery' In 'Secret 11% Fare Hike'

First Great Western, logo on a train at Paddington Station, London.
First Great Western, logo on a train at Paddington Station, London.

First Great Western has been accused of "daylight robbery" by secretly increasing advance rail fares by over 11%.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association claimed that the train firm was planning to raise fares for advance tickets bought at stations rather than online from September 8. This comes as train firms are set to increase rail fares by an average of 4.3% from next year.

The company, which runs services between London and the South West and South Wales, denied the claim, saying there was no single set price for an advance purchase ticket because prices varied depending on how busy a train was.

Manuel Cortes, the TSSA union's general secretary, said: "This is yet another move to close ticket offices by driving passengers online when trying to find cheaper fares.

"They are penalising all passengers who buy advance tickets at a station and that is particularly unfair on the middle aged and elderly who prefer to use their local booking office."

The union is writing to First Group chief executive Tim O'Toole asking if rises would also apply at the company's four other franchises - First Capital Connect, TransPennine Express, First Hull Direct and ScotRail.

A company spokesman said: "Advance Purchase tickets are variably-priced fares, which change depending on how busy a particular train is. There is no single set price for an AP ticket.

"These fares already offer significant discounts of more than 60% on standard walk up fares, and this will not change in September.

"Like many other operators, we are currently running a promotion that gives customers an additional 10% discount on these fares when booking from our own website."