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Rail firm will pay millions to chaos-hit commuters

COMMUTERS are set to receive millions of pounds in compensation after calamitous timetable changes in May.

Tens of thousands of passengers will be handed the payouts by train operator Go-Ahead following the spate of cancellations and delays across the rail network caused by the botched overhaul.

Go-Ahead says it has contacted 30,000 commuters affected on its Thameslink services to offer them compensation since the beginning of last week alone. Trains on the Thameslink and Great Northern lines were the worst affected with eight weeks of disruption.

Despite the turmoil, Go-Ahead’s pre-tax profits were up 6.5 per cent to £145.7million for the year to June 30. And chief executive David Brown said the company would fight any government penalties resulting from the chaos, saying it only received the timetable changes from Network Rail weeks before they were due to be implemented.

‘It was a systemic industry failure and the biggest timetable changes for a generation,’ he said. ‘We are all mortified by it, but we are getting it right now.’

Mr Brown insisted Go-Ahead services are ‘much improved’ since an interim timetable was introduced in July, and is ‘confident’ of having the full changes in place by December 9.

Go-Ahead’s rail division operating profits fell 25.7 per cent to £44.5 million, largely due to it losing the London Midland franchise. It is hoping to hold on to its Southeastern contract, which expires in March.

Merc cost me double because of card glitch

In a spin: A Cardnet error meant Francesca Brady and her mother paid twice for an £18k Mercedes

A WOMAN who bought an £18,000 Mercedes with a debit card paid double because of a glitch that saw thousands of payments charged twice.

Francesca Brady and her mother bought the car on 29 August — the day a terminal run by Cardnet caused debit card problems. They were left £16,000 in the red over the weekend until the money and charges were repaid. Miss Brady, 25, of Camberley, Surrey, said: ‘When I checked my mother’s account I freaked out. I think we were the only people to spend that much on that day.’

Cardnet — a joint Lloyds Bank and First Data venture — handles more than 1.2billion transactions a year. Lloyds said all customers were refunded.

World’s greenest beer, probably

CARLSBERG hopes to help clean up our oceans by ditching its plastic six-pack rings in favour of a recyclable glue. The world-first ‘Snap Packs’ are held together with dots of adhesive but can be twisted apart. The packs, which Carlsberg says will reduce its plastic use by more than 75 per cent, go on trial in Tesco stores from Monday. Chief executive Cees ‘t Hart said he would like competitors to adopt the method.

BUSINESS BITES

■ BOVIS Homes posted a better than expected 41 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £60.2million in the six months to June 30. It said strong demand, attractive mortgage rates and Help to Buy boosted sales.

■ BURBERRY will stop using real fur as the brand aims to be ‘socially and environmentally responsible’. Animal campaign groups welcomed the move. The fashion house also said it will no longer destroy ‘unsaleable products’.

■ A CAP on rip-off standard variable energy tariffs will save 11million households a total of £1billion a year. The limit on bills for the average dual fuel customer will be £1,136, and the typical saving will be £75, said Ofgem.

■ PROFITS at McCarthy & Stone are set to fall by a quarter after a sales dip, the retirement housebuilder said. But revenue will rise to £670million, helped by a 10 per cent increase in its average property price to £300,000.

■ MELROSE Industries’ £8billion hostile takeover of engineering giant GKN contributed to pre-tax losses of £303million in the six months to June 30. However, revenues soared from £1billion to £2.9billion.