More fare misery for Sevenoaks

The 2018 fares have just been announced. An annual Standard Class season ticket from Sevenoaks to Charing Cross or Cannon Street, currently £3,380, will increase to an eye-watering £3,500.

As usual, Sevenoaks commuters are being gouged. Similar length commuter journeys on other operators are significantly cheaper – Watford Junction to London is 11% cheaper and Redhill to London is 18% cheaper.

The Government allows each of the train companies to increase their regulated prices by up to the RPI measure of inflation. Needless to say, Southeastern are taking the maximum permissible increase in regulated fares – as well as increasing some unregulated fares twice already this year. In the final year of the current franchise there’s little prospect of that money being ‘invested’ into services that the company may lose at the end of next year – it is likely to go straight into corporate profits.

Once again, we just have to grin and bear it… or do we?

The illogicality of the fare system, and successive years of gouging on headline routes such as Sevenoaks to London, have left some anomalies in fare system that knowledgeable travellers can legitimately take advantage of.

For Sevenoaks the season ticket fare from Sevenoaks to New Cross will be only £2,144, and from New Cross on to Charing Cross it’s just another £796.

For Sennockians, split ticketing used to be impractical because the National Conditions of Carriage craftily said that the train had to call at the intermediate station, and very few Sevenoaks trains call at New Cross.

However, last year the NCoC were replaced by the National Conditions of Travel which seem to allow split season ticketing to be used in this way.

14.2 If you are using a Season Ticket, daily Zonal Ticket, or another area based Ticket such as a concessionary pass, ranger or rover in conjunction with another Ticket and the last station at which one Ticket is valid and the first station that the other Ticket is valid are the same, then the train does not need to call at that station for your combination to be valid.

Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association cannot promise that the train companies won’t find a way of stopping you from using this apparent £560 saving. (In the past there has been talk of forcing passengers to get off the train and go through the barriers at the intermediate station!).

Update 13 December 2017: Kent Live online are reporting on this way of saving money, featuring SRTA Chairman Tony Clayton. Kent Live have checked with Southeastern who are quoted as saying: “We understand that, under the [National Rail Conditions of Travel], split ticketing for season tickets in the way [described] is technically permissible.”

It remains to been seen how long it takes Southeastern to, yet again, change the rules in their favour.


More fare misery for Sevenoaks — 36 Comments

  1. I’ve just checked current and new fares from Borough Green. A BRG to London Terminals ticket rises to £3992 (£136 increase) and BRG to London (inc zones 1-6) rises to £4688 (up £160). Taking into account the decision to delay the promised all day service to Blackfriars and beyond on the Maidstone East line to 2019, together with the prospect of services to/from the City being altered and cut in the May 2018 timetable change, this is an extremely bitter pill to swallow. And yet I see South Eastern come out with the same mealy mouthed statement that they use every year, about “no one likes to pay more fares, but it’s the Government’s fault, and the fare rises are used to pay for more investment etc”. This on a morning when yet again the 7.09 BRG to BFR service is cancelled due to a “train fault”. Will a new operator be any different? I suspect not. They really have got us over a barrel….

  2. On the new fares Gatwick will be far cheaper at only £3144 despite being further from London (26.59 miles) compared to Sevenoaks (22.11 miles).

    If we paid the same fares per mile, our 2018 Sevenoaks fare would be £2614.

    So compared to Southern commuters we’re being overcharged by £886.

    Thank you Mr Grayling!

  3. When checking my annual season ticket on the train last week, I asked the ticket inspector what he would be saying to me if I had presented him with two tickets for my journey (one from London to New Cross and another to Sevenoaks). He told me it would have been allowed.

  4. Thanks Charles. It’s vital that the message gets to the front line. From reactions elsewhere this will be a feature of season ticket renewal for many people in January. If others could ask the same question it will help the ticket inspectors get the message and avoid misunderstandings later.

  5. Just to follow up… I have actually renewed my season ticket now for next year and bought 2, split at New Cross. Again, I was told by the person serving me it was absolutely fine to do it that way. I also read the National Rail conditions of travel and it states quite clearly it’s allowed, plus in the event the train companies do find a way to make my life difficult, the conditions also state passengers can exchange existing season tickets for an alternate route at any time by paying the difference.

  6. I have just renewed my annual ticket from Sevenoaks to London Terminals. I wasn’t aware of the above and simply asked for a renewal. The guy in the ticket office proactively told me about the “via New Cross” option, and confirmed there is no need for the train you’re on to call at New Cross. He said it’s fine “as long as it covers the distance”. So this does seem to be making it to the front line, and in my case at least, it was raised by staff without prompting. Quite pleased with making such a large saving!

  7. Great. Thanks I will give it a go. I don’t suppose it is possible to combine the split journey into a single card ticket is it?

  8. @Oliver Alas no! Split means split! You need to have the two tickets, and present the right one at the right barriers.

  9. I can confirm I bought a split ticket this morning. The staff knew about the option and were happy to sell the ticket and reassure that it is entirely ‘legal’. It worked out at about £820 for 3 months. Not sure how that compares to standard fare after all the fare hikes.

  10. I just renewed splitting the ticket in this way…no complaint from the staff although he did point out the ticket would not be valid via the Bat and Ball branch line.

  11. @ Oliver Clark

    You may be able to load both your Split Season Tickets on to The Key. Southeastern’s FAQs state that up to five tickets can be held on The Key at any one time and that for convenience and ease you are able to purchase multiple Season Tickets to various destinations in advance.

    Tell us how you get on !

  12. I just went to renew my Sevenoaks to London Zone 1-6 gold card today unaware of the rule change and the ticket officer proactively advised me to buy a Sevenoaks to New Cross ticket and a New Cross to London Zone 1-2 ticket (I never used zones 3-6). Saved me £654. After coming home I got a bit nervous that it might just be the one ticket officer that has read the new rules and I would have to argue with conductors every time I got inspected, so I started searching online and found this article. Quite reassuring.
    If all the ticket officers advise the same it will be very common soon. Presumably if they change the rules again they have to at least let through those of us that bought the ticket during the window of opportunity!

  13. Pleased to hear the split ticketing has acceptance with staff as I too have just purchased split tickets for the year with a £600 annual saving! Thanks SRTA.
    Am now just wondering how/if delay repay will work on this ticket combination?
    Happy new commuting year.

  14. @Matt Thanks. The ticket would also not be valid for normal services Sevenoaks-Orpington-Victoria

  15. @Guramsa Yes, our understanding is that they could not change the rules for you once they have sold the ticket to you. We are a little concerned that for future purchases they could change the rules (or make a special condition) without any publicity, which is why it may be worth checking at the ticket office at the time of purchase.

  16. I also renewed my annual ticket at sevenoaks on 28th December and was proactively advised that purchasing two tickets (sevenoaks to newcross and newcross to London terminals as described above) was permissible. He also suggested I only buy a zone 1 and 2 for the leg of my journey from Waterloo east or London Bridge to Canary Wharf, rather than the zone 1 to 6 I have bought historically. Over all cost saving was circa £700. Thank you sevenoaks station staff!

  17. Just to add that I bought a split season ticket from Sevenoaks via New Cross; I used it for the first time this morning and the inspector/guard on the train didn’t seem fussed or concerned about it at all.

  18. Gutted – I bought my ticket in November at Sevenoaks station and got no such advice from the staff. Will have to remember next year 🙁

  19. @ Tim

    If you check the sums carefully you may well find that the large saving will still make it worthwhile to buy new annual split season tickets and to get a refund on your existing one, even though the increased prices will apply and the refund will not be strictly pro-rata.

    Southeastern’s FAQs state that the refund is the difference between what you originally paid and what you would have paid for a Season Ticket (or combination of tickets) covering that period. Note that the administration fee has been scrapped.

    Alternatively, their FAQs also state that you can change the destination station on your annual Season ticket if there’s at least a week left on it: if the new price is lower, they’ll give you a refund. Buying a new ‘New Cross – London Terminals’ ticket and changing your existing ticket to ‘Sevenoaks – New Cross’ may give you a higher refund because the new price will be based on the low fare to New Cross. It also means that the 2018 fares will still apply if you renew your tickets next November.

  20. Thanks for advice above Gerry. I don’t have a Key but will look into it.

  21. All sounds very positive! I’m about to get a split ticket from Tunbridge Wells to London via New Cross. I wonder if I’ll get the same knowledgeable experience from TW station staff?

    I’ve also asked southeastern what happens about claiming delay repay. I currently do this online and I expect it will be difficult with a split ticket. I estimate I make back around £200 a year from delays, so it’s important I know how it would work!

  22. @andrew Thanks for the update.

    The Southeastern Delay-Repay scheme says “If you arrive at your destination 30 minutes or more late as a result of a delay to a Southeastern service (including if your train was cancelled), you can claim compensation.” and “The value of compensation is based on the price paid for your journey and the length of delay.” (our emphasis)

    So, in principle, you should be able to get Delay-Repay for the whole journey between London and Tunbridge Wells. Customers have successfully claimed for journeys involving two trains, and Transport Focus have confirmed that the compensation should apply to the whole rail journey.

    However there have been cases where such claims have been initially rejected and have only been allowed on appeal (and in some cases intervention by passenger groups like ours). If you run into any difficulties, please do let us know.

  23. I’ve done the split ticket. One paper season ticket to new cross and a zone 1-2 travel card on my oyster. Have been ticket checked already with no problems.

    I asked if you could put both tickets on “the key”, you can’t. But by using the Oyster, you just need to touch in at a London terminal so I’m happy.

    Thank you for discovering this, big saving.

  24. @nathan Thanks for this update. The Key apparently can hold up to five railway season tickets including combined rail and travelcard seasons, but a standard-alone Zone 1-2 Travelcard is a TfL product and so probably cannot be held on the rail-only Key card.

  25. Southeastern have updated their website to make it impossible to buy a New Cross to London terminals on “the Key” without a zone 2-6 travel card! seems the front line staff are proactively promoting the idea whilst presumably the management have instructing their web developers to prevent it happening… very naughty!

  26. @joe606 Thanks for this. It seems pretty hard on New Cross residents working in London and not needing a travelcard: why should they have to buy a Zone 2-6 Travelcard that they don’t need?!

  27. A question: Can you buy the Sevenoaks New Cross, and then complete the New Cross to London Bridge on a Pay-as-you-go Oyster? presumably not as it will not have ‘tapped in’ anywhere?

    I half the time travel into London Bridge and walk and half the time need to take a tube once I arrive. I’m trying to work out the smartest combo that doesn’t mean buying a full annual Zone 1&2, but also doesn’t mean I have the New Cross London Bridge and THEN need to pay for a single tube journey on the oyster.

  28. @pgc No, you cannot complete your onward journey from New Cross by Pay As You Go Oyster because you would not have ‘tapped in’. Going through the barriers at London Bridge will ‘tap out’ and, without a tap-in, you will be charged the maximum Oyster fare. And then you will charged the normal rate for your tube journey in addition!

    What’s more if you are incurring a maximum Oyster fare in the same place every day then you may find that you come to the attention of the authorities – this is how they caught the fare dodger in a notorious recent case (see here)

  29. Seems like this is not possible anymore – ticket terms for Sevenoaks to New Cross (or any other intermediate station) now clearly state “Not valid for travel via (changing trains or passing through) London terminals”.

    This means that under section 14.3 of the National Conditions of Travel you would be breaching the ticket terms with the split tickets. Very sneaky of them!

  30. The restriction printed on the ticket hmerely prevents you going all the way to Charing Cross and then making a Doubleback to New Cross (but happening to exit at Charing Cross for a few hours !).

    However, this restriction is not relevant to Split Season Ticketing because the journey beyond New Cross will be covered by the second ticket, namely a New Cross to London Terminals ticket or a Z1+Z2 Oyster card. There is no Doubleback involved in this case, they are both point-to-point journeys where the through train happens not to stop at the intermediate station.

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