Strike-hit South Western Railway and GWR both axe cheap Christmas tickets4 min read

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South Western Railway and Great Western Railway have both axed cheap Christmas tickets with some fares doubling despite journeys taking up to three times longer. 

South Western has scrapped all cheap advance fares across its entire network until January 3.

It coincides with the dates of a 27-day strike from December 2 to New Year’s Day in a long-running dispute over guards on trains.

This will continue to impact thousands of passengers travelling between London, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon. 

South Western Railway and Great Western Railway have both axed cheap Christmas tickets as some fares double despite journeys taking up to three times longer due to festive engineering works

South Western Railway and Great Western Railway have both axed cheap Christmas tickets as some fares double despite journeys taking up to three times longer due to festive engineering works 

Similarly, Great Western has not offered any of its usual cheap advance tickets between London and stations on the Cardiff line on Christmas Eve and December 27, which are both days affected by festive engineering work.

It will mean that more passengers will have to pay full-price standard fare, which is double the advance fare, despite the journeys taking up to three times longer. 

Rail analysts have said that passengers will be ‘spitting mad’. 

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One example is South Western’s services from London to Portsmouth which will be delayed by improvement works closing lines near Woking from December 28-30.

The advanced single fare for the journey, which usually costs £9, will not be made available and instead trips will cost £38.70 return – effectively £19.35 per single. 

But the usual 2 hour 15 minutes will also take 45 minutes longer.

Great Western will also have services suspended between London and Reading from December 24 to 27.

Buses will also replace trains between Bristol and Cardiff from December 27 to January 2. 

Great Western Railway have also implemented the change which is due to impact thousands of passengers travelling between London, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon

Great Western Railway have also implemented the change which is due to impact thousands of passengers travelling between London, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon

None of the usual £19.50 advanced single tickets from London to Cardiff with Great Western Railway were made available.

This will mean that a trip made from December 27 will cost £81.30 for a super off -peak return – making each single leg equivalent to £40.15 – which is double the advance single price. 

The journey will also take 3 hours and 58 minutes – two hours longer than usual. 

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Trips from London to Reading and Norwich to London are also impacted. 

South Western Railway said it did not want to make cheap fares available as it would encourage travel when services will be busy. 

Rail firms said they could not sell cheap advance fares for routes where works meant passengers had to travel on a train run by a different operator for part of the journey. 

But travel experts said firms should have allowed passengers to purchase cheap advance tickets and travel via other operators’ services to their destination. 

Analysts said prices should be reduced due to engineering works rather than having cheap fares removed. 

Travel expert Ian Baldry, who has run IBPTS travel consultants since 2001, said: ‘Passengers will be spitting mad that the usual cheap advance fares were not made available this Christmas. 

‘It means more passengers have to pay full price fares, although rail trips will be longer because of works taking place.

‘Travellers will be frustrated. 

‘Ticket prices should be lower, not higher, as the routes without the cheap tickets have delays, sometimes an an hour or more, due to works. 

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‘Passengers should be allowed to use advance tickets on other operators’ trains running to their destination.’ 

Bruce Williamson, a spokesman for campaigners Railfuture, said: ‘Passengers will be frustrated that advance fares were removed. 

‘The cost of travel should reflect the quality of service. So if the service is slower than normal, it’s understandable passengers would want to pay lower fares due to the delay.’    

But a spokesperson for South Western Railway said: ‘We have a reduced service planned for the whole of December and it would be irresponsible to encourage bookings, due to the potential for overcrowding.’ 

A Great Western Railway spokesperson said: ‘The reason advance tickets are not available from Paddington is that we are not running services from the station. 

‘Routes from Paddington to Reading are available with other operators, but we don’t control those fares. Reading to Cardiff GWR advance fares are available. 

‘Services will be busy. We recommend customers allow plenty of time and reserve seats.’