I have had a couple of bad experiences with train operators recently (and one good one,but you will have to read about that in my Rail column). The most unpleasant was a nasty little train guard who would not let me onto a Virgin train despite the fact that I told him I had been unable to retrieve my ticket from the machine because I had been given the wrong code number by the travel agent.
He would not let me on the train at Euston unless I paid the full fare to Liverpool, £67, even though I explained that the information was all in my computer which I could open up on the train. Then worse, Virgin have so far refused me a refund, even though the guard promised I would get one, on the grounds that I should have had a valid ticket to show the guard – even though they know full well that I have paid twice for one journey. It is pure theft and I will battle onto to try to retrieve the money.
The other bad experience was with FirstGroup. I bought tickets in advance to go to Swindon but in fact did not need to travel. So I claimed the refund online but because I bought two single tickets, they have charged me two lots of £10 for the admin charge, rather than one. Again, I will try to make a fuss but it rather spoils the game if they find out who I am.
I was talking the other day to a past member of a local passengers consultative committee and I have to agree with him that abolishing the regional groups does seemed to have weakened passenger pressure on the railways.