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Passengers in Ladbroke Grove train crash charged for journey

Evil uses of IT: number 43

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Passengers on the early morning commuter train that crashed at Ladbroke Grove in 1999, killing 31, had their accounts debited for the ticket price just hours after the tragedy.

The news has come to light after the train's ticket collector ran into one of the survivors and quipped: "Well, you weren't charged were you?" "I was," the man replied. Telling the tale to the BBC's South East newsroom, Colin Paton, explained that passengers that had paid for tickets on their credit cards were charged.

Colin was using a portable ticket machine and the details were then downloaded to First Great Western's charging system. The train operator explained it had to download the information in order to identify passengers for the Transport Police.

However, survivors were appalled when the ticket price cropped up on their credit card bills. First Great Western admitted to the BBC that it could have cancelled the transactions. When asked why it didn't the company answered that it wrote to as many passengers as possible suggesting that they apply for a refund.

The company is being accused of brutality and abject insensitivity. A lawyer for the survivors has also raised the depressing legal argument that FGW may be in breach of contract because it failed to deliver passengers to their destination.

The crash in October 1999 occurred when after a Thames train went through a red signal and hit the First Great Western InterCity carrying passengers. ®

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BBC Online's story

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