Thousands spent on first class fares

Virgin Trains
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MEMBERS of Parliament from the Fylde coast spent thousands of pounds between them on first class rail travel.

A total of £5,442 was claimed by MPs travelling in first class, while a total of £10,142 was claimed on all rail tickets over the last year.

The claims were submitted on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) website, and highlight how much of the taxpayers money was spent on journeys - the majority of them being from the MP’s constituency to Westminster.

IPSA allows politicians to travel first class if the fare costs less than an any time standard open return, the most expensive type of standard class ticket.

Gordon Marsden MP for Blackpool South and Paul Maynard MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, claimed £509.20 and £492.50 on first class rail travel respectively.

Mr Marsden’s total spending on rail travel for the time of April 2010 and March 2011 was £1,944.30.

He told The Gazette: “The rules (of expenses) are very straightforward in that you should look for the most economical fair.

“But if you book in advance and get the cheapest, that won’t always be in standard class.”

Mr Maynard claimed £1,538.87 and says he consistently looks for the cheapest tickets when he books a train.

He told The Gazette: “I book as far in advance as I can, but it can be difficult to get the really cheap tickets.

“If you travel in first class when it’s not the cheapest ticket you are costing the taxpayer more.”

Ben Wallace MP for Wyre and Preston North, claimed £4,502.65 in rail expenses, £4,366.50 of which was on first class travel.

He says his rail travel expenses were fully compliant with the rules and audited by the House of Commons.

MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood Eric Ollerenshaw claimed no first class tickets, but his rail travel expenditure amounted to £1,544.25 and Fylde MP Mark Menzies spent £75.50 on first class and £614.40 all together.

Mr Menzies said: “One of the key areas in which I save money is I always try to travel at off-peak times.”