Senior Railcard Moments June 2018

Our Bat & Ball correspondent, Keith Alderman, has now retired. However, when Thameslink allow him, he’s making good use of his Senior Railcard!

Delay Repay Claims: total 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2018 inclusive = £56.90
(Southeastern £29.20, Southwestern £12.40, Thameslink £15.30, one claim outstanding)

This month’s delays: total 109 minutes; Southeastern 103, Thameslink 6

Incidents and this month’s issues: –

Friday 1 June – My first trip of the month is to Stockport. The fare breakdown for today’s travel was Bat & Ball / Euston return £25.75 (about 47 miles), Euston / Stockport return £22.00 (about 355 miles).

Friday 8 June – I am bound for Southampton today. I wanted to start my journey from Bat & Ball on the 07.21 to Sevenoaks and prior to leaving home I checked the National Rail Enquiries website to confirm that the train was running. This advised that the timetabled 07.21 departure was retimed to 07.23 and that it was on time. However, drilling down on the “Details” link the displayed screen advised that the train will not run. Accordingly. I delayed my departure and travelled on the 07.52 service. On arrival at Sevenoaks I asked one of the platform staff if the 07.21/07.23 service from Bat & Ball had run to time and they advised me that it did. I later confirmed this by making an enquiry on a website that provides detailed train running information. Why was National Rail Enquiries advising that the train was on time and that it would not run at the same time?

My return journey was not good. The 15.30 from Southampton Central was delayed in the Woking area and arrived at Waterloo twenty-four minutes late. South West Railway is a relatively new franchise holder therefore delay repay kicks in after a fifteen minutes delay; claim submitted. Southeastern did not do any better, the 17.42 from Waterloo East also arrived at Sevenoaks twenty-four minutes late. Accordingly, it did not connect with the 18.22 to Bat & Ball therefore I travelled on the 18.52 service which was on time. Another delay repay claim submitted.

The breakdown of the cost of today’s journey was as follows; Bat & Ball / Waterloo East £20.75 return, Waterloo / Southampton £12.00 return.

Saturday 9 June – I needed to travel to Aldershot today which should have been straightforward to buy a ticket online and decide which trains were most suitable for my purposes. However, Thameslink have not been making details of the train service that they might operate until the evening before the day you want to travel. Accordingly, I could not buy a ticket online in advance of the day I needed to travel and determine which trains I could use. Therefore, the only option open to me was to plan my journey from Sevenoaks and return and go to Sevenoaks station and buy a return to Aldershot from Bat & Ball dated 09/06/2018 in person, not so convenient as buying online. Thereafter, it was wait and hope that a train service would be serving Bat & Ball when I wanted to travel. I received an e-mail from Thameslink on Thursday advising that Sevenoaks to Blackfriars services were diverted to Victoria on Saturday, but the actual timetable was not available until Friday evening!

Wednesday 13 June– I am bound for Leeds today. I wanted to start my journey from Bat & Ball on the 07.21 to Sevenoaks and prior to leaving home I checked the National Rail Enquiries website to confirm that the train was running. Again, this advised that the timetabled 07.21 departure was retimed to 07.23 and that it was on time. However, drilling down on the “Details” link the displayed screen advised that the train will not run. However, based on previous experience last week, I went to the station and this train did run and arrived at Sevenoaks on time. Presumably, there is a fault on National Rail Enquiries Website.

I arrived back at London Bridge in time to board the 18.10 to Sevenoaks, however it was cancelled. Accordingly, I boarded the late running 18.12 service which was seventeen minutes late arriving at Sevenoaks and missed the connection with the 18.52 to Bat & Ball. Therefore, the delay to my journey was thirty minutes. The next service was the 19.22 which ran to time. Another Delay Repay claimed submitted to Southeastern. I could not use Southeastern’s Wi-fi today.

As you might expect the fare to London was more expensive than the one from London to Leeds, Bat & Ball / Kings Cross £25.75 return, King’s Cross / Leeds £21.10 return (371.5 miles).

Friday 15 June  – A short journey to Bromley South today. The 12.25 service from Bat & Ball arrived one minute late at Bromley South. My return journey departing at 14.53 was on time.

Tuesday 19 June – Sevenoaks to Twickenham today to see the Rolling Stones play at Twickenham stadium. I commenced my journey on the 15.49 from Sevenoaks to Waterloo East where it arrived two minutes early. I continue from Waterloo to Twickenham on South Western Railway services which ran to time. However, the South Western Railway had major problems when I tried to return to Waterloo. Twickenham station was closed at 22.30 when I tried to catch a train, possibly due to a person on the track. I eventually walked away from the station and caught a bus to Richmond. Here was no better, some trains shown as running then they got later and were eventually cancelled. No railway staff to be seen and only security company staff on the platform who runaway when people attempted to ask them about train services. I did get a train at 23.37 but this was stuck at Vauxhall for a long time. Staff advised leaving the train and using the Underground which was useless for me. I stayed on the train and arrived at Waterloo at about 01.00. Eventually taxis were arranged, and I got home at 02.50! I understand that there had been two train failures, and possibly signalling problems as well. The Metro reported that it was two train and one points failures that caused the chaos.

Wednesday 20 June – Sevenoaks to Wembley Park today to see the Hollywood Vampires play at the Arena. I commenced my journey on the 16.43 from Sevenoaks to London Bridge where it arrived four minutes late. I used the Jubilee line to Finchley Road changing there on to the Metropolitan line to Wembley Park. I returned from Wembley Park on the Jubilee line to London Bridge. I returned to Sevenoaks on the 23.39 which arrived there three minutes late.

Friday 22 June – My destination is Lewes today. I commenced my journey on the 07.55 from Sevenoaks to Swanley where it arrived on time. I continued my journey on the 08.23 service to Victoria arriving there four minutes early. The 09.46 to Lewes arrived one minute early.

The fares for today were as follows; Bat & Ball to London £20.75 return, Victoria to Lewes return £19.15. A return from Bat & Ball to Lewes would have been £47.80!

Thursday 28 June – It was my monthly reunion with former colleagues today for our usual meal and real ale therapy session. Before attending the event, I went for a wander around the south/south west of London. I commenced my travels on the 11.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which was one minute late. I continued to Waterloo East on the 11.29 which also arrived one minute late. I walked to Waterloo and boarded a train for Twickenham it was a variant of the Thameslink class 700, a class 707 which has the same awful hard seats fitted. Arrival at Twickenham was on time. After spending some time in Twickenham, I continued to Kingston. Another class 707 train, it arrived two minutes early after departing one minute late. Later, I continued my travels bound for Waterloo. The train I was travelling was another class 707 which was experiencing problems with the on-board information display. It was informing passengers that the service was bound for Waterloo, calling at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham and Swanage!

Southeastern and Thameslink Customer Service: Pay Peanuts, ….

In May I posted here about the journey time between Bat & Ball and Maidstone East since the introduction of the new timetable, (62 minutes with 31 minutes waiting for a connection at Otford).  I wrote to both Southeastern and Thameslink about the matter.

The responses show how customer service offices issue standard responses that are frequently not appropriate, when they should forward the issue up the management line or to the relevant department to someone who can send a relevant and informed response.

Continue reading

This Week’s Thameslink Game: The Three Card Trick – Find The Truth

Here’s this week’s new game from Thameslink.  It’s their virtual version of the Three Card Trick (aka Find The Truth).

Study the attached photo (click on it to expand), and imagine you were at Sevenoaks station on Tuesday night, heading for Otford.  All you have to do is to guess which one of the three Passenger Information Screens is telling The Truth! Continue reading

Senior Railcard Moments May 2018

Our Bat & Ball correspondent, Keith Alderman, has now retired. However, when Thameslink allow him, he’s making good use of his Senior Railcard!

Delay Repay Claims; total 1 January 2018 to 31 May 2018 inclusive = £26.80
(Southeastern £19.80, Thameslink £7.00) One claim outstanding.

This month’s delays, total 72 minutes, Southeastern 37, Thameslink 35. Continue reading