How would you spend £340,000 to improve our stations?

Govia Thamelink was fined £15 million for last year’s timetable meltdown. After work by MPs, local councils and rail traveller groups this has been allocated to stations, for projects to help passengers hit by the collapse in services.

For stations we cover on the Darenth Valley line £340,000 will be allocated to projects that help passengers directly.  Amounts at each station depend on how badly services were affected.

Please let us know what you think? Decisions will be taken end July, and GTR will give extra weight to passenger groups like ours.

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Senior Railcard Moments May 2019

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 2019 to 31 May 2019 inclusive = £27.80
(Southeastern £23.70, Southern £2.00 Thameslink £2.10).

This month’s delays: total 83 minutes, Southeastern 56, Thameslink 27

Friday 3 May – My destination is Reading today. Ideally, I would have liked to have been there by before 11.00 hours, but I did not want to pay the £55.10 fare. Departing Bat & Ball at 09.21, arriving in Reading at 11.23 was still costing £55.10. However, an Off-Peak One Day Travelcard, (£11.20), plus an Off-Peak Day Return from Paddington to Reading, (£13.65), would be valid but only costing £24.85! The Off-Peak Day Return from Bat & Ball to Reading, (£20.85), is not valid until the 09.52 departure, arriving in Reading at 12.01. However, this ticket is valid on the 09.43 departure from Sevenoaks, arriving in Reading at 11.28. Accordingly, I purchased this ticket plus an Anytime Day Single from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks at £2.80, total fare paid £23.65. Bat & Ball to Reading and return is approximately 120 miles.

At Sevenoaks the 09.29 to London Bridge, and the 09.43 were running late. Surprisingly, a member of the platform staff at Sevenoaks said that I could travel on the late running 09.29 service with my ticket. This train departed at 09.30 and arrived three minutes late at London Bridge.

Thursday 9 May – My destination is Bexley today. I intended to travel on the 12.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks, then on the 12.29 to London Bridge, changing there on to the 13.11 to Bexley. However, fortunately I discovered that the 12.21 service had been cancelled early enough to use the 11.55 service from Bat & Ball to Catford. This train arrived on time at 12.35, I walked to Catford Bridge where I boarded the 12.49 service to London Bridge. Arrival at London Bridge was on time at 13.00, in time to catch the 13.11 to Bexley!

Friday 10 May – I am travelling to Newton Abbot today. I needed to be at Paddington station in time to travel on the 10.03 departure, (historically the Cornish Riviera Express). My Advance single ticket was restricted to using the 08.31 service from Sevenoaks to Charing Cross, the connecting service from Bat & Ball was the 08.23 departure. However, to ensure that I would be at Sevenoaks in time for the 08.31 I travelled from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks on the 07.52 departure. This train departed two minutes late and arrived at Sevenoaks one minute late. The 08.31 from Sevenoaks departed one minute late and arrived at London Bridge on time. I used the Jubilee and Bakerloo lines to transfer to Paddington. The 10.03 from Paddington departed one minute early and arrived at Newton Abbot on time at 12.27. The group of people I was travelling with boarded a coach and commenced a long weekend of visiting steam railways, breweries and pubs in the Good Beer Guide. Our base for the next three nights was Paignton.

Sunday 12 May – I travelled on a local Great Western Railway service from Paignton to Teignmouth today, only a two-coach diesel unit but with good Wi-fi which was very useful because the hotel’s Wi-fi was awful. A 27.5 miles return journey, fare paid £4.45.

Monday 13 May – I returned from Newton Abbot today on the 17.41 departure which was four minutes late. It was an Inter-City 125 train which pleased me, it was possibly my last ride on one of these trains on the Western Region because they are being withdrawn soon. Arrival into London Paddington was thirteen minutes late. Bat & Ball to Newton Abbot and return is approximately 436 miles, I paid £50.50 for my tickets.

Friday 17 May – I am heading for Kingston today, departing Bat & Ball on the 09.21 service to Sevenoaks where it arrived on time. The 09.29 to Waterloo East departed two minutes late and arrived on time. The 10.27 from Waterloo to Kingston arrived ten minutes late.

Sunday 19 May – A historic day at Sevenoaks station! On the first day of the new timetable Sevenoaks station had copies of timetable number 6, London to Bromley North, Orpington, and Sevenoaks via Grove Park, available for customers.

Wednesday 22 May – My destination is Cambridge today. The local radio was reporting that there were problems in the Shortlands area therefore before leaving home I checked online to see if the 09.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks was on time because I needed to be on the 09.29 from Sevenoaks to London Bridge to connect with the 10.42 departure from King’s Cross. It was shown as being on time, likewise the 08.51 departure. My ticket was not valid until the 09.21 service, but I decided to be at Bat & Ball station in time to travel on the 08.51. When I arrived at the station both the 08.51 and the 09.21 trains were shown as on time. Accordingly, I waited for the 09.21 departure. Bad decision! As soon as the 08.51 departed the information screen changed to “delayed” in respect of the 09.21. Accordingly, the only option available to me was to travel by bus to Sevenoaks station to achieve my connection. This proved to be the correct action because the 09.21 from Bat & Ball did not arrive at Sevenoaks until 09.33 but cost me a £2.10 bus fare. I arrived at Sevenoaks station in time to travel on the late running 09.19. This train departed three minutes late and arrived at London Bridge two minutes late. I transferred to King’s Cross using the Northern line. The 10.42 to Cambridge arrived two minutes early. Thameslink have refunded the £2.10 bus fare that I paid due to the train delay. Bat & Ball to Cambridge and return is approximately 164 miles, the fare paid was £21.45.

Thursday 23 May – I travelled to Lincoln today, I commenced my journey on the 07.23 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. The 07.32 to London Bridge departed one minute late and arrived in London on time. I transferred to St Pancras International for King’s Cross using a Thameslink service. It was the late running 07.58 at 08.00 which was due at St Pancras International at 08.13. However, after departing London Bridge the train came to a halt waiting for a path into Blackfriars, eventually arriving at St Pancras International eighteen minutes late. The 09.06 departure from King’s Cross was an Inter-City 125 heading for York. I travelled on this train to Newark North Gate where it arrived two minutes late. The 10.50 service to Lincoln arrived two minutes early. I returned from Lincoln on the 15.42 departure, arriving at Newark North Gate one minute early. The 16.20 to King’s Cross was four minutes late at Newark North Gate and five minutes late arriving at London. After transferring to London Bridge using the Northern line, I travelled back to Sevenoaks on the 18.10 train at 18.14. It arrived at Sevenoaks fourteen minutes late. The 18.52 to Bat & Ball was in time. Bat & Ball to Lincoln and return is approximately 321 miles. The fare paid was £39.80.

Wednesday 29 May – I am heading for Bridgnorth today. I departed Bat & Ball on the 06.51 which arrived at Sevenoaks on time. I boarded the 07.03 service to London Bridge which departed at 07.02 and arrived in London one minute early. I transferred to Euston on the Northern line. The 08.23 from Euston to Birmingham New Street departed one minute late and arrived Birmingham seven minutes late. I walked to Birmingham Snow Hill to catch the 10.13 to Kidderminster, this train departed eight minutes late and arrived in Kidderminster six minutes late. After some suitable refreshment in the King & Castle I boarded a steam hauled train to Bridgnorth where lunch and further refreshment was taken. After returning to Kidderminster behind a different steam locomotive, I commenced my journey home on the 17.25 departure to Birmingham Snow Hill. This train departed one minute early and arrived two minutes before time. I walked towards Birmingham New Street, because I had plenty of time to complete this transfer, I visited the Briar Rose for a glass of supper before boarding the 19.10 to Euston. Bat & Ball to Kidderminster and return is approximately 311 miles and the fare paid today was £52.15.

Thursday 30 May – Today is my monthly meeting with former colleagues in the Crosse Keys. I departed Bat & Ball on the 14.21 to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. The 14.29 to London Bridge was on time. After visiting a shop located near Tower Bridge, I boarded a 47 bus which stops very close to the entrance to the Crosse Keys. I returned from London Bridge on the 19.09 which was three minutes late arriving at Sevenoaks.

Friday 31 May – My destination is Stockport today. The 07.52 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks was on time. At Sevenoaks Southeastern were experiencing delays due to a failed train blocking a platform at Tonbridge. I boarded the late running 07.51 to London Bridge at 08.03. This train was twenty-three minutes late arriving in London. I transferred to Euston using the Northern line. The 09.20 to Stockport arrived there eight minutes late. I returned from Stockport on the 15.23 which departed at 15.25 and arrived in Euston one minute early. After crossing London on the Northern line to London Bridge I boarded the 17.54 to Sevenoaks which arrived there one minute late. The 18.22 to Bat & Ball was on time. Stockport to Bat & Ball in exactly three hours! Bat & Ball to Stockport and return is approximately 430 miles, the fare paid was £59.40.

Incidents and this month’s issues: –

A sign has appeared at Bat & Ball station explaining why the public toilet is not available to use: apparently some work is required to be undertaken before it can be opened.

The more I pass through Bat & Ball station it reinforces my opinion that the green paint used on the station building is far too dark to be an accurate colour for the building.

I noticed recently that there are now LED lights illuminating the platforms at Sevenoaks station, and the platform information screens have been updated. They are now much clearer and show the arrival times at stations on route to the train’s destination.

Last month I mentioned that people are now being directed on a circular route from London Bridge station to the Underground station if they require the Northern line. My recent observations indicate that people are ignoring these signs and walking the traditional shorter route!

Delay Repay Delay

Last month I submitted a Delay Repay claim to Southern Trains in respect of a journey from Chichester to Bat & Ball. This was using an advance purchase ticket which clearly showed that it was only valid on the 15.40 departure from Chichester. I was very surprised that the claim was rejected because they could not identify the journey I was claiming against! I have resubmitted the claim with a very detailed breakdown of the journey and what train services I ended up using due to the train cancellation. It was paid but was it worth the effort for £2.00!

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Senior Railcard Moments April 2019

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 2019 to 30 April 2019 inclusive = £22.90 (Southeastern £20.90, Southern £2.00, Thameslink £0). One claim outstanding.

This month’s delays: total 85 minutes, Southeastern 83, Thameslink 2

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How to avoid being overcharged by a ticket machine for off-peak travel

The ticket issuing machine at Bat & Ball station frequently does not issue off-peak tickets until about 09.15 hours. With the first off-peak departures at 09.21 to Sevenoaks and 09.25 to Blackfriars this can cause problems when there are many people waiting to purchase tickets for these services.

This “feature” is also implemented at Sevenoaks. Southeastern say that the time is set so that people cannot accidentally buy an off-peak ticket that would not be valid on the next train. But it also means that people may well accidentally buy a full-price ticket if they arrive early for an off-peak train – and of course Southeastern don’t complain about that. (It would be better for the ticket machine to give a warning “this ticket is not valid until 0921” rather than refuse to offer it at all.)

However, there is a way round this. If you select the option to buy a ticket for travel on a future date, when prompted to enter the day on which you want to travel enter the current date then tickets at off-peak fares are available.

To avoid this problem, I usually buy my tickets online in advance and then I only need to collect them from the ticket machine at any time.