Chancellor George Osborne travels first class on train despite only having standard fare

Chris Parsons

Chancellor George Osborne appeared to make an embarrassing public transport faux-pas today when he travelled first class on a train journey to London despite only having a standard ticket.

Mr Osborne had been travelling from Wilmslow, Cheshire, to London Euston this afternoon using a standard ticket to get back to the capital.

But the Chancellor found himself in the middle of an unfortunate dispute when he got on the train in the north-west and sat straight in first class, despite not having the right fare.

A ticket inspector who challenged Mr Osborne and an aide to produce the correct fare was said to have been told that the Chancellor "couldn't possibly sit in standard class".

Mr Osborne was eventually made to pay a hefty first class open fare of £189.50, which he settled through a police officer who had been travelling with him.

The embarrassing scenes for the Chancellor were caught by ITV reporter Rachel Townsend, who tweeted the incident as it happened.

She said: "George Osborne got on the train with aides at Wilmslow and went straight to first class. Then his aide approached the ticket collector right next to me.

"He said he is travelling with George and he has a standard ticket but can he remain in first class?

"The guard said no. The aide said Osborne couldn't possibly sit in standard class. The guard replied saying if he wants to stay it's £160.

"The aide said he couldn't pay and he couldn't really sit in standard. The guard refused to budge.
"The guard went on gathering tickets and later told me Osborne had agreed to cough up the £160."

A Virgin Trains spokesperson said a standard train fare from Wilmslow to Euston on the day would have cost £140.

Together with the additional first class fare, which the spokesperson confirmed at £189.50, the journey could have set the Chancellor back an eye-watering £330.

A group of reporters had been waiting for Mr Osborne at Euston station to question him over the fare-dodging, but the Chancellor was said to have been ushered out of the station by a different exit.

A spokesperson for the Treasury refused to immediately comment.