Train firms offer poor first-class valueWhat do you get for your first class train ticket?

24 November 2012

fast train UK

Train travellers buying a first-class ticket over the Christmas period could get very little or nothing for the extra fare, new Which? research reveals.

In our research of major UK rail operators, we uncovered significant ticket mark-ups. While some providers, including Virgin Trains and East Coast, offer hot meals served to your first-class seat, what you get with other companies ranges from absolutely nothing to more space or tea and a biscuit.

No first-class seating or service

When we checked earlier this month, Southeastern was selling first-class tickets for £40.30 from Ashford to London St Pancras International for its premium High Speed 1 service - nearly a quarter more than an anytime standard one-way ticket. However, there's no first-class seating or service.

Southeastern told Which?: 'The first-class fare you found is a mistake on our system. If anyone has unknowingly purchased a first-class ticket for this journey, we will refund the difference.'

  • If you want to complain to a train company or the regulator, check out our guide to train delays and cancellations for contact details and a round-up of your rights.

Lack of first-class meals on trains

Several providers don't offer complimentary meals on all services, while for some there's no hot meal option, just more space and light refreshments. So, if you're travelling from Manchester to Edinburgh with First TransPennine Express, you could pay £47 for a standard ticket, or £127.80 for a 'complimentary tea/coffee/water and a biscuit on services where catering is provided' and more space in first-class seating.

You don't even get a cup of tea with London Midland, only more space and power points in a separate compartment. yet a trip from Birmingham New Street to Liverpool Lime Street could cost £26.10 for a standard ticket or £45.40 for first class.

See our step-by-step guide for getting compensation for train delays and cancellations.

More on this...

  • Train delay tool - find out what compensation you're entitled to
  • Train delays and cancellations - your rights if your train is late
  • Cheap train tickets - how to get the best value deal when travelling by train