Saturday, May 18

Virgin Trains slammed for £338 open return from London to Manchester



A Sky News correspondent has branded Virgin Trains a national disgrace for charging more than £300 for an open return from London to Manchester.

Sports broadcaster Martha Kelner blasted the rail operator over the £338 standard class ticket in a tweet on Monday.

She wrote: Just bought London to Manchester open day return. £338. That’s a national disgrace @VirginTrains.

Ms Kelner’s claim prompted a huge response online, gaining more than 8,500 likes and a thousand comments as frustrated rail passengers said it was cheaper to fly to countries around the world than purchase the ticket.

A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: The vast majority of our customers pay far less than Martha, with fares between London and Manchester starting at £23.

Martha could have booked and travelled that same day for just £39 by choosing her train and buying an advance fare.

Many people online suggested that the journalist could have flown to several destinations using the same amount of money.

Jeremy Cross replied: It’s cheaper to fly.

Cheaper destinations to fly to from London

Prices from Skyscanner for return flights departing Nov 28

New York, United States – from £256

Valencia, Spain – from £147

Marrakech, Morocco – from £77

Nice, France – from £48

Dubai, UAE – from £310

Moscow, Russia – from £91

To which Ms Kelner quipped back: to New York!

Fares on a return flight to New York departing from London on Wednesday start from £276, according to Skyscanner.

One man, Tim Rich, suggested that Ms Kelner could fly to Moscow from London Heathrow and enjoy a night in the five star Sheraton Palace hotel for the same price.

While Simon Miller said he is flying to Valencia for three nights on Thursday, costing £315 for flights and the hotel.

And Patricia Barraclough claimed she can fly from Sydney to London for around the same price. A one way ticket to the Australian city in February starts at £357.

But others admitted that last minute travel is often more expensive as they suggested Ms Kelner should have booked her ticket in advance.

Dave Haslam wrote: Agree it’s madness and indefensible but all the same I travel approximately once a month to London from Manchester (and back). I have never paid more than £90. Last time I paid £55 return. Last minute travel is often more expensive; flights, hotels, etc.

Jon Neale said: I go up to Manchester all the time, and can often get returns in first class for 60 or 70 quid by booking early and flexibly.