TRAIN operators have been condemned for profiteering from Barnsley Football Club’s imminent trip to Wembley which will see thousands of fans having to pay a whopping 50 per cent more due to a last-minute price hike.
Michael Duff’s side booked their ticket to the League One play-off final against Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday a week ago today following a 1-0 win against Bolton at Oakwell.
It gave fans just over a week to sort out their travel to the capital ahead of the game on Monday but they’ve been left with eye-watering train costs despite fares usually dropping on bank holidays.
Coun Kevin Osborne, who represents the Darfield ward, investigated the figures and found the ‘shocking’ stealth tax that fans will have to pay should they travel by train.
He used train booking websites Trainline, Split My Fare and East Midland Trains for price comparisons and found the cheapest return ticket from Barnsley to St Pancras via Sheffield on Monday came in at a whopping £92.10.
Other fares on some of the most popular services increased to a staggering £175.
Coun Osborne compared these special bank holiday fares with the cheapest ‘normal’ Monday fare in the next 12 weeks and it came in at £48.30.
That’s an increase of just over 50 per cent.
In addition to this price hike, Coun Osborne discovered that there were at least 19 different fares between Barnsley and London, depending on time of journey and whether passengers changed trains at Sheffield, Chesterfield or other stations on the Midland main line.
First class fares mirror those in second class you could end up paying £531 to travel to London on Monday in first class luxury.
He told the Chronicle: “I attended the annual council meeting and the mayor-making ceremony on Friday evening but kept one eye on my mobile phone to check on the Barnsley score.
“Once I knew Barnsley had made it to Wembley I started checking the train fares.
“I knew that train fares on bank holidays are meant to be off peak all day so to discover a 50 per cent price hike in the cheapest fare available was shocking to say the least.”
It focused on encouraging more people to travel by train to football games, and ensured that passengers should not have to pay more for their train tickets in the event a match is rescheduled for TV.
However, these plans seem to have fallen on deaf ears when it comes to Barnsley fans who are having to foot a huge fee in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
“Barnsley fans didn’t have the luxury of booking this trip to Wembley in advance and working class football fans from the town and beyond are being made to pay the price for a privatised rail network,” Coun Osborne added.
“The sooner train operating companies put passengers before profit the better.
“A nationalised rail network and uniform ticketing systems has to be the way forward.”
In 2019, the government announced plans to work with rail companies to provide a ‘better deal’ for football fans.
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said: “This is a massive moment in Barnsley FC’s season.
“The fans have created a brilliant atmosphere at Oakwell in recent weeks and we need to see as many local supporters at Wembley as possible.
“It’s deeply concerning to see a spike in train ticket prices coinciding with the weekend of the play-offs - which will undoubtedly mean that many fans, particularly when times are so tough, will miss out on an amazing experience following our club.
“I know the local business community in Barnsley have rallied and, together with the club, are providing coach travel at a more reasonable price.”