Vicar’s train ticket shock

Rev Andrew O'Brien got fined for travelling by train on a group ticket with three people when he had

Rev Andrew O'Brien got fined for travelling by train on a group ticket with three people when he had paid for four seats - Credit: Archant

A VICAR who bought a train ticket for four people was surprised to find it invalid when he travelled as a group of three.

Rev Andrew O’Brien purchased the GroupSave ticket for a journey from Royston to London King’s Cross with his wife and two daughters.

However, only three of them made the return journey, and Rev O’Brien, who is vicar at Meldreth Parish Church, was confused when a ticket inspector told him his ticket was invalid and he had to purchase a family ticket for three at a cost of £48.

He said: “The four of us went down, intending to return the next day, but something came up and my daughter had to stay in London and travel back separately. We’d paid for four seats, so I was surprised to get penalised.

“These tickets are supposed to offer you a discount, but it didn’t end up cheaper for me as I had to pay another £48.”

Rev O’Brien, who had to pay for a new ticket immediately on the train, has written to train operator First Capital Connect to complain about its policy.

“I think people should be made aware of what can happen so they don’t get caught out like this,” he said.

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“I don’t see the logic of it. Usually when you get a fine it’s because you are trying to diddle them, but it’s not like I was wanting to get an extra person on the train.

“In effect we gave them an extra seat, and my daughter had to pay another £20 for a separate ticket. What was I supposed to do, buy another ticket for a passenger who didn’t exist?”

A spokesman for First Capital Connect explained that a fine was issued because all passengers have to travel together at all times.

He said: “Our GroupSave ticket is a great way to save money. It’s available for travel from every station on our network and when two adults buy an off-peak day return, one or two more people travel for free.

“As an extra bonus, up to four more children can travel for just £1 each when accompanying a GroupSave party.

“However, the terms and conditions of the ticket clearly state that fares are based on all people in the group travelling together at all times.”