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First Great Western start charging Olympic Volunteers for tickets

 

Rail fare muddle for Olympic volunteer Peter Darnell
By David Millward http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2118474_rail_fare_muddle_for_olympic_volunteer_peter_darnell
August 09, 2012Rail bosses are saying Mr Darnell should have been paying all along

An Olympic volunteer is finding it a challenge to find out what he should be paying for his transport to the Games in London.

Peter Darnell, 58, enjoyed free train travel with First Great Western (FGW) for two weeks simply by showing his Olympic pass.

But the train company’s generosity came to an abrupt halt when a ticket inspector said the benefit had been withdrawn.

Now rail bosses are saying Mr Darnell should have been paying all along.

The Shinfield weather centre worker said: “I went to the ticket office in Reading station before my shifts started and they told me you don’t have to buy tickets, you get free travel with First Great Western.

“I then travelled up and down for six shifts and it was very good. I just showed the ticket guys my Olympic ID and there were no questions.

“I went in on Wednesday and went through the Reading gate no problem at all.

“But I got to Paddington and the man there said have you got a ticket? I said I don’t need one, and he said oh yes you do.

“I told him the story and he said we have been told it’s no longer valid.”

The ticket inspector was persuaded to let off Mr Darnell but when he checked with the Reading ticket office on the way home he was told there had been a misunderstanding between LOCOG, the London organising committee of the games, and FGW and there was no more free travel.

Mr Darnell, of Cutbush Lane, Shinfield, said: “I have bumped into other people who have been given free travel.

“I just wonder why we are given something and then half way through they take it away and they don’t tell anyone.”

However, FGW insists there had never been any deal for Olympic volunteers.

Spokesman James Davis said: “Travel for Olympic volunteers is sorted through LOCOG. We are not providing free transport for Olympic volunteers.”

However, he admitted there may have been some confusion among staff members over the travel arrangements.

A spokeswoman for LOCOG said volunteers, otherwise known as Games Makers, received free travel in zones one to six in London on the days they were working.

But she said: “We have always been quite clear from the start that transport wouldn’t be provided apart from zones one to six.”

Mr Darnell, who has been driving members of the Olympic family between Games sites, is now paying £9.50 for his train ticket under a special fares deal which exists between the Department for Transport and the train operating companies.

He said: “We’re all giving our time up for free. Most of us have got another job to do.

“We are doing our shifts, watching the Olympics and sleeping.

“It was brilliant when First Great Western gave us free travel. Once you have decided to do something you should bite the bullet and say let’s not annoy people.”

 

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