The great Virgin Rail rip-off row rumbles on

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Virgin Rail representatives will today meet with a Fylde coast MP amid a growing row over the cost of some journeys.

Fylde coast rail users heading to London face paying up to four times as much if they travel from Preston.

I regularly meet with all train operators including Virgin Trains and always interested in passenger benefit and value for money

The Gazette revealed on Friday how a Blackpool man was quizzed by police after being accused of fraudulently buying a ticket from Lancaster, which was significantly cheaper, but getting on the train at Prseton.

CCTV footage later proved he did board at Lancaster.

Ahead of today’s meeting, Fylde MP Mark Menzies has written to the Government for clarification over the West Coast Main line pricing structure.

He has vowed to resolve the situation that sees passengers travelling from Preston paying up to four times as much as those from Lancaster to use the same trains to London – even though it is a shorter journey.

Those travelling back orth on tickets to Lancaster have reported being told they would be committing fraud by getting off at Preston rather than continuing through to their destination.

Mr Menzies wrote to ask the secretary of state for transport what discussions he had had with Virgin over consistency of ticket pricing.

Rail minister and Blackpool North MP Paul Maynard wrote back: “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.”

Rises in regulated fares are capped by the Government, he said.

Mr Maynard added: “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 8.38am service from Lancaster to London on Friday, returning at 5.57pm costs £93.20.

A journey on the same train going from and returning to Preston cost £320.50 yesterday – three and a half times the cost.

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