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[12 FEB 99] WARWICKSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL PRESS RELEASE
Virgin Called To Explain Rail Fare Increases

Representatives of Virgin Trains' senior management have been asked to attend a public meeting to explain their pricing policy and account for rail fare price increases of up to 27%, by Warwickshire County Council.

In an open letter to Virgin Rails' Chief Executive, Mr B Barrett, Warwickshire Trading Standards has raised several issues which it would like Virgin to respond to.

  • Excessive Prices

Primarily, the Council are not convinced by Virgin's justification for the high increase in fares.

  • 'Confusion Marketing'

Research conducted by Trading Standards Officers has indicated that such is the multiplicity of price combinations on Virgin Rail services that one member of Virgin's own staff commented that "you need a degree to understand it". If this is so, Trading Standards are asking how the average consumer is expected to ascertain the best deal?

  • Inadequate Public Information

Trading Standards Officers have been told that no explanatory leaflets on the vast range of rail fares are available and that to guarantee the cheapest fare consumers may need to book up to 3 months in advance!

It is hoped that a meeting can be arranged for March, where Councillors, business and consumer representatives can speak directly to Virgin Train representatives about the issues raised by Warwickshire Trading Standards.

The Leader of Warwickshire County Council Cllr Ian Bottrill is calling on the Government to make consumer protection a primary objective of the new Strategic Rail Authority and establish an independent consumer panel to ensure that consumers interests are put centre stage.

Read a copy of the open letter to Vrigin Trains and the related press release: 18.01.99

More Information:
Simon Cripwell, Senior Information Officer (01926) 414039
Noel Hunter, County Trading Standards Officer (01926) 414040
Bob Teers, Divisional Trading Standards Officer (01926) 414020.

         

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CWN / Politics / Warwickshire County Council / Press Releases / 12 Feb 99

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