Wonky algorithm hikes online rail fares for commuters to London Bridge

Online rail fares to London Bridge station almost doubled for some commuters following an out-dated algorithm that wrongly calculated prices.


Rail firms fell victim to an algorithm as they tried to offer workarounds for the engineering disruptions starting this weekend due to London Bridge station's redevelopment.

National Rail, Southeastern and Thameslink were criticised by commuters for hiking their fare prices online – some fares rising almost double.

The secretary of the Sevenoaks Rail Travellers' Association stated on its website: "An investigation by the Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association has uncovered that the rail industry’s main website nationalrail.co.uk is quoting the “cheapest” Sevenoaks to Charing Cross return fare for Saturday 10 January of £27.80 – over double the proper fare of £11.60."

But ComputerworldUK have been told that the increase is due to an attempt to offer rail customers an alternate journey so they avoid the engineering disruptions at London Bridge beginning this weekend.

The alternative journeys included Transport for London fares so commuters could use the underground to avoid disrupted stations - as well as the usual train fares. These additional journeys are to be offered free of charge, however old algorithms in ticketing sites combined them when calculating passenger's journeys automatically.

London Bridge's refurbishment will last for the next three years. While the station will offer some services, the engineering works beginning this weekend up to August next year will be the most disruptive, Network Rail have advised.

National Rail, the UK railfirm union, have put calls in to have its website bug fixed overnight but Southeastern said that its customers will still see a higher fare displayed throughout the weekend – however customers will be able to click on a cheaper option. It said the glitch will be fixed entirely by Monday and the fault has been reported to its IT services supplier Atos.

All customers who were charged at a higher rate will be offered refunds, a spokesperson added.


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