Justin Gutmann challenges operator of Great Northern, Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink in new collective trains claim
Hausfeld filed a collective claim with the Competition Appeal Tribunal (the Tribunal) as co-counsel on behalf of Justin Gutmann against Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), one of Britain’s busiest commuter railway networks, seeking compensation for routine overcharging on train tickets. The damages amount to up to £73 million and it is said an estimated 3.2 million passengers are affected.
GTR, the operator of the Great Northern, Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink lines, is alleged to have not made ‘boundary fares’ sufficiently available for Travelcard holders to purchase, nor making passengers aware of their existence. It is calculated that 240 million journeys since November 2015 could have benefited from boundary fares if travellers had been aware of them.
Independent research has demonstrated that such fares are not readily available online or over the telephone and are rarely offered at ticket counters unless expressly requested. Travellers holding a London Travelcard should be offered a ‘boundary fare’ discounted tickets taking them from the boundary of any zone covered by the card to their destination. This results in customers buying a higher fare than was necessary.
The claim alleges this is a breach of the UK’s competition rules (s.18 of the Competition Act 1998) and an abuse by GTR of its market powers.
Mr Gutmann, formerly of Citizens’ Advice, said:
“This claim is the latest step in my campaign to stamp out routine overcharging of millions of passengers by some of Britain’s top rail operators. The failure of these companies to make Boundary Fares more freely available is scandalous and has been going on for years. It’s a practice that needs to stop – and passengers who have overpaid deserve compensation.”
Who is eligible?
Great Northern serves destinations including Cambridge, Peterborough, King’s Lynn and Ely while Thameslink is a key commuter line to central London linking Brighton, St Albans, Bedford, East Grinstead and Luton Airport. Southern serves destinations including Brighton, Hastings, Portsmouth, Southampton, Eastbourne and Milton Keynes.
Passengers who owned a Travelcard at any time from 24 November 2015 and also purchased a rail fare from a station within the zones of their Travelcard to a destination outside those zones may be eligible for compensation under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (2015 Act).
The 2015 Act allows for a collective claim to be brought on behalf of a group of individuals who are alleged to have suffered a common loss. Instead, these consumers may all receive compensation through a single, collective claim brought on their behalf by Mr Gutmann.
Affected passengers will not have to pay any legal costs to participate in the claim and do not need to do anything at this stage to be included in it. Anyone who would like to receive further information about the claim, can visit the claim website, www.BoundaryFares.com, to sign up for updates.
The case has been reported widely, including by:
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Robin Pagnamenta at Kekst CNC
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Notes to Editors
- Mr Gutmann is represented by Hausfeld and Charles Lyndon Limited. His claim is funded by Woodsford, a global ESG and litigation funding specialist.
- The Competition Appeal Tribunal will now determine whether or not Mr Gutmann’s claim is allowed to proceed.
- Justin Gutmann has a wealth of experience working in the consumer rights sphere and strong expertise in the transport sector. He has spent a large part of his professional life dedicated to consumer welfare, public policy and market research. Mr Gutmann’s final job was Head of Research and Insight at Citizens Advice. He spent eight years working for London Underground.
- Last month, Mr Justin Gutmann secured the landmark legal approval from the CAT to bring to trial collective actions seeking compensation worth up to £93 million against two other rail operators, the South Western and Southeastern rail franchises, over the same issue. The abuse is ongoing despite GTR also being the parent company of Southeastern.