Warning Brits will be left in lurch as rail firms use loopholes to sell tickets for cancelled ‘ghost trains’ | The Sun

BRITS have been warned they could be left in the lurch as rail companies use loopholes to sell tickets for cancelled “ghost trains”.

Rail firms are able to axe thousands of trains without officially recording them, after selling travellers tickets for the service.

The Office of Road and Rail has admitted a record 314,000 were dropped in the 12 months to October 15, but that figure does not include those hit by strikes, lost in “amended” timetables or cancelled before 10pm the night before.

Christian Wolmar, a veteran rail expert, said: “I had a ticket for an 8am King’s Cross train – I looked on the station noticeboard and it wasn’t there.

“The man said there is no 8am train and I said I have a ticket for it. It was always on the timetable but it had become a phantom train.”

Speaking about the official figure, which represents 3.8 per cent of services across the country, he said: “I can’t remember such a high figure but it’s irrelevant because it only represents cancellations on the day.”

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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak slammed Avanti West Coast after it was revealed it had the worst official record, with 7.7 per cent of services cancelled.

In the 12 weeks to mid-October, it timetabled just 60 per cent of the trains it operated a year before.

The second worst operator was Govia Thameslink with 6.4 per cent, while TransPennine Express, which is also owned by Avanti, cancelled 5.3 per cent.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham described the hidden figures as “outrageous”, saying: “There’s no other word. People have lost trust in trains.”

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Last month, the Government extended Avanti West Coast’s contract but said it would lose it in April unless it “drastically improves”.

Meanwhile, No 10 yesterday urged the RMT union to consult its members over an eight per cent pay offer over two years.

But union boss Mick Lynch rejected it and announced yet another strike which is due to last from 6pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on December 27.

Walkouts have already been announced for December 13-14, 16-17, as Mr Lynch condemned the "poor" pay offer from Network Rail.

"I am sure the travelling public will be really disappointed and irritated and angry," he admitted.

From December 18 till January 2, RMT confirmed that there will also be an overtime ban which will see the union take industrial action over four weeks.

The TSSA union last night called off its own industrial action on December 17 to put a “best and final” Network Rail offer to its members.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that, despite a new and improved deal offering job security and a fair pay rise, the RMT is not only continuing with upcoming industrial action but has called more strikes over Christmas.

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“It’s especially disappointing given TSSA called this new and improved deal the “best we can achieve through negotiation” and called off strikes.”

He accused the RMT of not playing its part in talks, saying the union would cause “harmful disruption” this Christmas rather than being involved in “helpful discussion”.

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