Senior Railcard Moments November 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 November 2018 inclusive = £104.19
(Southeastern £36.50, Thameslink £28.50, South West Railway £12.40, Southern £1.10, Virgin £25.69). One claim outstanding, one under dispute about amount paid.

This month’s delays: total 110 minutes, Southeastern 101, Thameslink 9

Thursday 1 November – My destination is Egham today. I commenced my journey on the 12.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. The 13.29 to Waterloo East arrived there two minutes late. This train was a four coach 375/9 and was very crowded with people standing. Some seats were empty, blocked in by passenger’s suitcases and other luggage, or were the unusable middle of three seats. I walked to Waterloo station and discovered there were problems due to somebody being on the tracks in the Richmond area and signalling problems somewhere. The information screens did not look very good, trains delayed, cancelled and running late. The 13.20 to Egham was shown as being delayed. It eventually departed at 13.29 and arrived twelve minutes late at Egham. I returned from Egham on the 16.53 service which arrived three minutes late at Waterloo. The 17.48 from Waterloo East arrived at Sevenoaks two minutes late at 18.22, just in time to watch the 18.22 to Bat & Ball depart. My first Delay Repay claim of the month. The 18.52 to Bat & Ball was on time. At Sevenoaks station this evening passengers could pick up a free Southeastern ice scraper. I expect that most regular passengers would prefer the trains to run to time rather than being given a free ice scraper!

Friday 2 November – I am heading for Merstham today. The cheapest fare for this journey is £8.10 travelling via Tonbridge and Redhill; and is only one minute slower than the fastest journey via other routes which cost £12.50. Why do the National Rail Enquiries and Southeastern’s websites not automatically offer this fare? It is only obtainable, if you either specify that your journey is to be routed via Tonbridge, or if after receiving the initial responses you search for cheaper fares. I always thought that the cheapest fare had to be offered!

I commenced my journey on the 10.22 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. I changed on to the 10.36 to Tonbridge which arrived on time. I continued my journey on the 11.01 to Redhill which departed on time but was four minutes late arriving, missing the connecting service to Merstham. Another Delay Repay claim submitted.

When I received a response from Southern to my Delay Repay Claim they have only paid me for a 15-29 minutes delay. According to the data shown on the “Real Time Trains” website the 12.11 service from Redhill to Merstham departed one minute early and arrived two minutes early. Do the rules relating to the Delay Repay scheme permit a train operating company to reduce compensation paid when following a missed connection, the next service departs early and then arrives early, before the time shown in the public timetable, at the destination station? I have referred this to Transport Focus.

Sunday 4 November – I am going to see Hawkwind play at the London Palladium this evening. Southeastern were running a reduced service today of only two fast trains and two slow ones per hour due to engineering works. When I travelled it appeared that only Networkers were being used with no first-class accommodation available, shame! I commenced my journey on the 17.47 from Sevenoaks to Charing Cross where it arrived two minutes early. I returned on the 22.55 from Charing Cross which managed to arrive one minute late at Sevenoaks even though less trains than usual were being operated!

Friday 9 November – My destination is Oxford today. I started my journey on the 09.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived two minutes late. At Bat and Ball, the ticket machine was not working therefore I could not obtain the Off-Peak Travelcard that I had bought online the night before. Whilst I was waiting for the ticket machine to possibly start working four people photographed the screen displaying the message that the machine was currently not in service. Is this the most photographed thing in Sevenoaks? The two minutes late arrival, plus needing to obtain my ticket at Sevenoaks, made me miss the 09.29 service to London Bridge and I then had to travel on the 09.43 departure. This train arrived eight minutes late, but my journey was delayed by twenty-four minutes. If this had been thirty minutes, or more, I wonder if a delay repay claim would have been accepted.

The ticketing for this journey was interesting; National Rail Enquiries offered an Anytime Return at £74.10 to travel on the 09.21 service, or an Off-Peak Return at £25.80 on later services. I needed to travel on the 09.21 but had no intention of paying £74.10. A little piece of research identified an Advance Purchase Single ticket from Marylebone to Oxford at £3.55, and an Advance Purchase Single ticket from Oxford to Paddington at £3.55. To these tickets I added an Off-Peak Travelcard from Bat & Ball costing £10.90. The total paid for my journey was £18.00 rather than the £74.10 offered, saving £56.10! My journey today was a round trip of about one hundred and seventy-nine miles.

Wednesday 14 November – I am heading for Hastings today. I commenced my journey on the 09.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived two minutes late. The 09.50 to Hastings arrived four minutes. I returned on the 14.50 from Hastings which arrived at Sevenoaks one minute early. The 16.52 to Bat & Ball was on time.

Thursday 15 November – My destination is Cambridge today. The 09.25 to Blackfriars arrived two minutes early. I continued to St Pancras International on the late running 10.27 service at 10.30. I travelled to Cambridge on 11.12 from Kings Cross which arrived one minute late. I returned on the 15.44 from Cambridge which arrived one minute early at Kings Cross. I transferred to London Bridge and boarded the 17.10 service to Sevenoaks which arrived four minutes late. Bat & Ball to Cambridge and return is approximately 160 miles, the fare paid was £20.80.

Wednesday 21 November – This week my first railway journey is in to darkest Essex, destination Rochford. Ideally, I would have preferred to arrive in Rochford before 12.00 hours. However, although I could achieve this by departing Bat & Ball at 09.21, (arriving 11.44), National Rail Enquiries would not offer an off-peak return fare for the journey; £40.50 was quoted but the off-peak fare is £20.45. However, an off-peak Travelcard, (£10.90), is valid on the 09.21 departure from Bat & Ball travelling to London Liverpool Street via Sevenoaks and London Bridge, arriving 10.23. The first off-peak fare from Liverpool Street to Rochford is on the 09.34 departure, therefore one would be valid on the 10.55 departure which arrives at Rochford at 11.44. Accordingly, why is an off-peak return fare from Bat & Ball to Rochford not offered on the 09.21 departure? I find it very annoying that off-peak fares are not consistently offered on the 09.21 departure from Bat & Ball to destinations via Sevenoaks, especially when this train is usually has very few passengers on it based on my experiences. Interestingly, an 11.44 arrival at Rochford is possible using an off-peak return ticket if you commence your journey on the 09.49 departure from Sevenoaks.

However, back to my journey: I departed Bat & Ball on the 09.52 to Sevenoaks arriving one minute early at 09.55. At Sevenoaks I boarded the late running 09.43 at 09.57 and travelled to London Bridge arriving seventeen minutes late at 10.24. This train was running late due to a passenger being taken ill at Orpington earlier in the day. I transferred to Stratford using the Jubilee line. On arrival at Stratford I was in time to travel on the 10.55 departure from Liverpool Street, due to depart Stratford at 11.02, arriving at Rochford at 11.44, my preferred arrival time! However, Greater Anglia were not having a good day with trains being delayed due to a late running freight train. The 11.02 departure from Stratford was thirteen minutes late and arrived at Rochford fourteen minutes late at 11.58.

Thursday 22 November – Another excursion over to the dark side, I am heading for Harwich today. The first off-peak fare, (£24.55), from Bat & Ball was only valid on the 09.55 departure to Sevenoaks and would not get me to Harwich International until 13.17. I needed to be there by 12.17. Accordingly, I bought an Off-Peak One Day Travelcard for £10.90, plus an Advance Single from Liverpool Street to Harwich International at £8.90 and the same for my return journey to London. A total of £28.70 rather than £58.00 saving £29.30! I departed Bat & Ball on the 09.21 to Sevenoaks which arrived one minute early. The 09.29 to London Bridge arrived three minutes late. I transferred to Liverpool Street via the Northern Line to Bank and then the Central Line. Whilst I was waiting for the 11.00 departure to Manningtree about twenty people with trainee guide dogs for the blind passed through the station in a line and entered the Underground station. The 11.00 to Manningtree arrived on time and the 12.00 to Harwich International arrived one minute early.

I discovered this evening that the off-peak fare of £24.55 is valid on the 09.21 departure from Bat & Ball to Harwich International arriving at 12.17. For some reason the National Rail Enquiries website does not offer this fare if an enquiry is made for trains departing Bat & Ball at 09.15, but it does if you make the enquiry for trains arriving at Harwich International at 12.15. Accordingly, due to the cheapest fare not being offered for this journey I paid £4.15 more than I needed to. I have contacted National Rail’s Customer Services and pointed out this discrepancy and suggested that I am due a refund of the overpayment.

Thursday 29 November – Today is my monthly reunion with my former colleagues at work. I commenced my journey on the 10.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where arrival was on time. The 10.29 Southeastern service to London Bridge departed two minutes late and arrive in London three minutes late. This train was full and standing on departure. I continued my journey to Sidcup on the 11.11 service which arrived on time. Later, I used the 321 bus from Sidcup to Lee but the stop name in Lee was not as shown online and I continued to Lewisham station. At Lewisham I boarded another bus and retraced my journey to Lee, the bus stop name was as expected in this direction! A bit later, I travelled by bus to Lee station and then boarded the 14.49 to Cannon Street where it arrived two minutes early.

After meeting my friends at the Crosse Keys, I proceeded on foot to London Bridge. London Bridge was covered with taxis parked all over it preventing any other vehicles crossing the bridge, likewise Tooley Street was full of taxis parked up whilst their drivers were protesting about unfair competition.

Friday 30 November – My destination is Dudley Port today. I departed Bat & Ball at 07.21 and the train arrived three minutes late at Blackfriars. This train was very crowded this morning. I noticed that unusually the toilets were free of charge at Blackfriars today when I walked past on the way to the Underground station. I transferred to Euston on the District Line to Embankment, then changed on to the Northern Line. It was impossible to board the first Underground train that arrived at Blackfriars. The 09.23 from Euston to Birmingham New Street arrived at Birmingham on time but waited outside of the station for a platform to become available, a frequent occurrence at this station, and eventually arrived three minutes late. The 11.11 to Dudley Port arrived there one minute late. I continued my journey into Dudley town centre by bus using a good value “Plusbus” ticket.

Knowing that West Midlands traffic is very busy, late afternoon/early evening, I departed Dudley by bus about fifteen minutes before I needed to and aimed for one train before the one that would connect with my booked train from Birmingham New Street to Euston. It was a good move; the bus took almost twice the time for the journey that the timetable suggests.

Returning from London, my Advance ticket stated that I must return to Sevenoaks on the 19.40 departure from Charing Cross. I arrived at Charing Cross at about 19.20 and watched the 19.30 to Tunbridge Wells depart on time. The 19.40 service to Dover Priory was late arriving at Charing Cross on its inward journey. As it was pulling in to the station an announcement was made informing passengers that the train would not be calling at Sevenoaks due to the late running. The next service to Sevenoaks was now the 19.45 Hastings train which was also running late. I watched the 19.40 depart at 19.43 and thought to myself why cancel the Sevenoaks stop, three minutes late departures are not unusual! According to train running data this train passed Sevenoaks at 20.19, (eight minutes late but in time to connect with the 20.22 to Bat & Ball), was five minutes late at Tonbridge and arrived one minute early at Dover Priory. What advantage did Southeastern obtain from this course of action? I would have thought nothing, but many people were inconvenienced. The 19.45 to Hastings, which I now had to travel on to Sevenoaks, departed Charing Cross six minutes late and was seven minutes late arriving at Sevenoaks missing the connection with the 19.22 to Bat & Ball. Another Delay Repay claim! Bat & Ball to Dudley Port and return is about two hundred and eighty-seven miles, the fare paid was £35.60.


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