Britain’s biggest train company has told its guards that they will be disciplined and possibly dismissed if they show discretion to passengers who are unable to buy tickets before boarding because of long queues at stations.
It is the latest example of the lengths to which operators are going in order to pay the billion-pound premiums demanded by the Government for rail franchises.
A confidential memo, obtained by The Times, reveals that South West Trains is introducing a system under which guards are judged according to the amount they collect in penalties. The memo, headed “commercially sensitive, please do not circulate”, instructs guards to treat passengers as fare dodgers even if they come up to the guard on the train and ask to buy a ticket.
The guards must sell the most expensive peak ticket and give no railcard discounts, meaning that passengers will usually pay more than double the normal price. Those travelling between London and Weymouth are being charged £82 on board for a ticket which would have cost £35 at the station.
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