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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Rail users 'denied cheap tickets'
Two people looking at a ticket machine
People are unable to take advantage of some discount deals
Rail passengers are missing out on cheap tickets because of timetable delays, a consumer group has warned.

The Rail Passengers' Council (RPC) said Network Rail is releasing train times as late as one week before the actual date of travel.

This means that passengers are unable to book months in advance and take advantage of the cheapest fares.

Under the terms of its licence, Network Rail is supposed to set its timetables at least 12 weeks in advance.

The cheapest fares are not being released so they're having to pay higher sums to travel during a period of disruption and engineering
Brendan O'Friel, Rail Passengers' Council

On the Euston to Manchester route, Virgin Value tickets were still not available on 20 August, just one week before the August Bank Holiday, the RPC said.

Rail passengers are often provided with conflicting information about prices and engineering works, the report found.

Holiday travel

"With Network Rail not publishing the timetables for the bank holiday weekend until only a week or two beforehand, passengers are being kept in the dark," said Brendan O'Friel, deputy chairman of the RPC.

"They can't plan ahead for their journeys, and even if they are lucky enough to get a ticket, the cheapest fares are not being released so they're having to pay higher sums to travel during a period of disruption and engineering."

Network Rail said the current problems were partly a result of "unprecedented" work on rebuilding the railway network, especially on the West Coast Main Line.

It also added it had created a "special task force" to tackle the issue and to ensure that these problems did not reoccur.

"It's still not where we would like to be but the situation is improving week by week, " it said in a statement.

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