- Rail passengers face inflated fares as train firms delay confirming timetables
- Long-distance trains such as Virgin East and West Coast will be worst affected
- In some cases passengers will pay for trains that are later replaced by buses
Rail passengers face paying inflated fares as train firms delay confirming timetables until a few weeks before travel.
The move has raised fears that many travellers will pay over the odds for their tickets because they are forced to book before cheaper advance fares become available.
In other cases, passengers will pay for trains that are later cancelled or replaced by buses at short notice.
Worst affected will be those booking long-distance trips on services such as Virgin East Coast, Virgin West Coast and the TransPennine Express.
Rail passengers face paying inflated fares as train firms delay confirming timetables until a few weeks before travel
Network Rail, which manages the rail infrastructure, is obliged to ensure timetables are correct 12 weeks in advance so passengers can book cheap tickets.
But huge changes in the May timetable – partly due to delays to its engineering projects and unexpected rescheduling of trains – means it has had to ditch this target temporarily.
While most timetables and tickets will still be available at the usual 12 weeks before travel, the timetable will not be confirmed until closer to the date – usually six weeks beforehand. This means there are more likely to be changes at short notice.
The change will happen from tomorrow. It is likely to affect travellers for six months.
Independent watchdog Transport Focus yesterday accused the rail industry of leaving the travelling public ‘in the dark’.
Industry body the Rail Delivery Group said passengers will be entitled to a refund if they book a train that is cancelled or delayed. And those who buy a ticket only for a cheaper advance ticket to become available later should buy the advance ticket and claim a refund for their original ticket.
Worst affected will be those booking long-distance trips on services such as Virgin East Coast, Virgin West Coast and the TransPennine Express