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.