Published: 20:49, 20 October 2021
| Updated: 20:58, 20 October 2021
Two rail franchises could be forced to pay back around £93m of damages to millions of customers for overcharging.
It comes after a tribunal gave the green light for rail passengers in Kent to seek compensation from Southeastern and South Western after they allegedly failed to make boundary fares more accessible.
Boundary fares allow passengers who own a TfL Travelcard to travel beyond the zones covered by their card without doubling up on payment.
But Southeastern and South Western are alleged to have not made them sufficiently available for Travelcard holders to purchase, and did not do enough to let passengers know they existed.
Independent research found the cheaper fares are not available online or over the phone from either company and they are rarely offered at ticket counters unless they are requested by passengers.
Instead customers had little option but to buy a higher fare than needed so many have effectively paid twice for parts of their journey.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal, yesterday ordered that the claims, issued on behalf of millions of rail passengers, can now proceed to trial.
The standalone claim by Justin Gutmann on behalf of passengers bringing this legal case was the first of its kind to be filed in the UK and is estimated to be worth around £93m in damages for rail users.
In its judgment the tribunal said: "We authorise the applicant to act as the class representative in both these proceedings; and we find that the claims in each action raise common issues and are suitable to be brought in collective proceedings.”
It means that millions of passengers who were overcharged for parts of their journey on the networks because they were not sold a boundary fare, will now automatically be represented at court, unless they choose to leave, or opt out of the claim.
Mr Justin Gutmann, formerly of Citizens Advice, will act as the Class Representative.
The claim was initially launched in the UK’s specialist competition court in February 2019 by Mr Gutmann.
“This is a great step forward in my legal campaign to achieve justice for millions of rail passengers..."
The application for a Collective Proceedings Application Order was heard remotely in March, leading to the recent decision.
Mr Gutmann said: “This is a great step forward in my legal campaign to achieve justice for millions of rail passengers who have been overpaying as a result of the train operating companies not offering boundary fares.
"It means that we can now hold Southeastern and South Western to account by going to court."
Claims will now proceed to trial for the tribunal to assess liability and damages.