Senior Railcard Moments March 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 March 2019 inclusive = £20.90
(Southeastern £20.90, Thameslink £0). One claim outstanding.

This month’s delays: total 65 minutes, Southeastern 65, Thameslink 0

Friday 1 March – My destination is Chappel and Wakes Colne today. I commenced my journey on the 09.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where the train arrived one minute early. The 09.29 to two minutes late departing Sevenoaks and arriving at London Bridge. I transferred to Liverpool Street using Thameslink to Farringdon and then the Underground. Whilst waiting for the 11.02 service from to Marks Tey three police officers were patrolling around the station, one a lady with a sniffer dog. Surprisingly, the dog was not interested in my bag which contained some cooked sausages in rolls for my lunch. The 11.02 service departed two minutes late and arrived two minutes early at Marks Tey where I transferred to a train for Chappel and Wakes Colne which departed one minute early and arrived at my destination on time at 12.07.

I would have liked to arrive at 11.07 but the fare was £59.80, the same fare applied to arriving at 12.07 if a through ticket from Bat & Ball was purchased. The first cheap ticket, (£25.30), would only offer an arrival at my destination at 13.07. However, an off-peak Travelcard, (£11.20), plus an off-peak return from Stratford to Chappel and Wakes Colne, (£18.35), permits an arrival at 12.07, and saving £30.65! Bat & Ball to Chappel & Wakes Colne and return is approximately 149 miles.

Wednesday 6 March – I am heading for Swindon today. When I arrived at Bat & Ball station the café was open, no customers but many people looked inside the building whilst they were waiting for a train. This was the first time that I have seen the café open, but I am still waiting to see the new toilets open for people to use. I started my journey on the 08.23 which arrived at Sevenoaks on time. The 08.31 to London Bridge arrived four minutes late. I transferred to Paddington using the Jubilee Line changing on to the Bakerloo line at Baker Street. This appears to be the current recommended route but in the reverse direction the Bakerloo line from Paddington to Charing Cross is still preferred. The 10.00 to Swindon departed on time and arrived two minutes early. I returned on the 15.12 to Paddington which came to a stand eight minutes early about three quarters of a mile outside Paddington, presumably waiting for a platform to become available, arrival in Paddington station was two minutes early. The class 802 train that the Great Western Railway is now using requires them to update their passenger information given at stations. These trains are fixed five coach units, frequently run in pairs; at Swindon the information screens advised that the 15.12 was a ten-coach train then advised that first class accommodation was in coaches’ numbers 1 & …… However, coaches on these trains are identified by letters not numbers. There was no information given about which coaches were in the front five coach unit and those in the rear five coach unit. Passengers need to know which way round the train is because there is no connection for passengers to use to move between each unit. I wanted coach “B” therefore I waited on the platform where I expected the middle of the train to be when it stopped. I noticed coach “B” was towards the front of the train as it run in to the platform and walked towards this before the train stopped, boarded coach “D” then walked through the train to my seat. Bat & Ball to Swindon and return is approximately 203 miles, the fare for this journey was £22.45, plus I spent £2.40 for a Plusbus ticket to travel around Swindon.

Thursday 14 March – My destination is Leicester today. When I arrived at Bat & Ball station there was one bicycle in the new bike racks, it was still there when I returned, and this was the first time that I have seen this facility being used. I travelled the 07.55 departure from Bat & Ball to Blackfriars arriving there three minutes early. I could not use the first train that arrived to continue my journey to St Pancras for two reasons: it was very full, and staff closed the train doors before all the people that wanted to board the train could do so. After waiting for about five minutes the next north bound service arrived and this was not so full, and entraining was not a problem. When I boarded the 09.31 service to Sheffield, first stop Leicester, none of the seat reservations were displayed and an elderly lady was sitting in the seat next to mine, her handbag and another bag placed on my seat and most of the table covered with various items. The train was not very busy therefore I found myself another seat. When the seat reservations were eventually downloaded fortunately the alternative seat I had chosen was not reserved. Arrival in Leicester was on time. Bat & Ball to Leicester and return is about 249 miles, I paid £29.00 for the two Advance single tickets for this journey.

Monday 18 March – Virgin Trains are offering very cheap fares after 11.00 hours between London and Birmingham on Mondays, £10 each way, less with a railcard. I could not resist taking advantage of this. I decided to travel to Birmingham today and then travel to Wolverhampton on the Midlands Metro tram system. I started my journey on the 09.21 from Bat & Ball which arrived on time at Sevenoaks. However, the onboard information screen was displaying “This train is not in service”! The 09.29 from Sevenoaks to London Bridge was running late and arrived in London seven minutes late. I transferred to Euston using the Northern Line. The 11.03 from Euston arrived outside of Birmingham on time but was two minutes late at New Street station due to the frequent problem here of waiting for a platform to become available. I started my tram journey and bought an off-peak day ticket for £4.00 onboard. I travelled to Wednesbury where I alighted from the tram and a glass of lunch was taken. I continued my journey to Bilston where some consumer research was undertaken before completing my journey to Wolverhampton. After some refreshment, I commenced my journey back towards Birmingham breaking my journey at West Bromwich for a meal. I arrived in central Birmingham about seventy minutes before my train back to London was due to depart. After some further consumer research, I boarded the 19.10 service back to Euston where it arrived on time. I crossed London on the Northern Line to London Bridge where I boarded the 21.09 to Sevenoaks at 21.18. At Orpington this train was held for four minutes to allow the 21.19 Ramsgate service from London Bridge to overtake it. Accordingly, the train I was on incurred further delay and arrived at Sevenoaks fifteen minutes late at 21.50. Fortunately, I managed to board the 21.52 to Bat & Ball, which arrived there on time.

Thursday 21 March – My destination is Bristol today, when I arrived at Bat & Ball station the same lone bicycle that I noticed on the 14 March was parked in the bike racks. It occurred to me this morning, now that the café is open, will the Metro be provided at the station? I commenced journey on the 07.52 to Sevenoaks which was one minute early. The 08.12 to London Bridge departed one minute late and was six minutes late arriving there. I transferred to Paddington using the Jubilee and Bakerloo Underground lines. The 09.30 to Bristol Temple Meads arrived two minutes early. I returned on the 15.30 from Bristol Temple Meads was ten minutes late arriving at Paddington. I used the Bakerloo Underground line to Charing Cross and boarded the 18.01 to Sevenoaks which arrived two minutes late. The 18.52 to Bat & Ball was on time. Two of the three toilets on this train were out of use and the other one was in desperate need of cleaning. Bat & Ball to Bristol and return is approximately 284 miles, the fare for this journey was £27.70.

Friday 22 March – I am heading for Brighton today. When I purchased my Advance tickets from Victoria to Brighton and return online, the Southern Trains website did not offer me the option to purchase a Plusbus ticket for Brighton. However, when I collected my tickets at Sevenoaks the booking office staff were able to sell me a Brighton Plusbus ticket. I boarded the 07.52 from Bat & Ball to Swanley where it arrived on time. I changed on to the 08.23 to Victoria which arrived in London three minutes early. The 09.25 from Victoria arrived in Brighton four minutes late. However, throughout the journey the onboard automated announcements were advising passengers that train was travelling from Brighton towards London! The train staff apologised that they could not override the system or turn it off. I returned from Brighton on the 16.03 which arrived three minutes late at Victoria. I used the 17.22 from Victoria Ashford International which arrived at Otford three minutes late. National Rail Enquiries advised a change of trains should be made at Bromley South during this journey. Considering the time of day with people commuting home, this surprised me because there would be a possibility of not getting a seat on the train to Bat & Ball from Bromley South. Otford as location to change between trains seemed a better choice to me. National Rail Enquiries offered fares of £49.30 or £58.10 for this journey but did not offer these for the trains I wanted to travel on; they advised, “check with operator more than one ticket may be required”. I paid £35.50 for this return journey: –

Anytime Single – Bat & Ball to Victoria – £12.90
Advance Single – Victoria to Brighton – £8.50
Advance Single – Brighton to Victoria – £5.60*
Anytime Single – Victoria to Bat & Ball – £8.50*
I also purchased a PlusBus ticket for £2.60* to travel around Brighton.
*Senior Railcard discount applied

Wednesday 27 March – I am travelling to Chichester today, I need to catch the 10.36 from Victoria and the first off-peak train from Bat & Ball to Victoria, (changing at Bromley South), does not arrive there until 10.25. Too close for comfort therefore I travelled via Sevenoaks to London Bridge departing Bat & Ball at 09.21. Arrival at Sevenoaks was one minute early, the 09.29 to London Bridge arrived on time. I transferred to Victoria using the Jubilee and District Underground lines. The 10.36 from Victoria arrived at Chichester two minutes late. I returned from Chichester on the 15.40 departure which was terminated at Gatwick Airport due to problems with the track. The next Southern service to Victoria was at 16.57. I finally arrived at Bat & Ball half an hour later than I should have; a delay repay claim has been submitted. Victoria to Chichester and back is 124 miles. I paid £6.60 for two Advance single tickets for this journey.

Thursday 28 March – Today was my monthly reunion in London with my former work colleagues. Armed with an off-peak one-day travelcard, I departed Bat & Ball on the 11.21 to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. This twelve-coach train was very busy today, many passengers boarding at Sevenoaks did not get a seat, probably none boarding at Orpington did. However, although this train was crowded many seats were covered by passenger’s bags and other personal items. Why do railway staff not actively encourage people blocking seats with personal items to remove them to free up the seats. The 11.29 to Charing Cross departed one minute late and arrived there three minutes late. Before meeting with my friends in the Crosse Keys I travelled around London, visiting The Mall, Chancery Lane, Holborn, Kingsway and Liverpool Street. I returned home on the 19.09 from London Bridge. This train was very busy this evening and first class was declassified at London Bridge.

Friday 29 March – My destination is Burton-on-Trent today. I commenced my journey on the 07.52 departure from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which arrived one minute early. The 08.31 to London Bridge arrived there four minutes late. I transferred to Euston on the Northern Line. The 09.43 to Birmingham New Street arrived in the Birmingham area on time but waited outside of New Street station for a platform to become available, eventually stopping there eight minutes late. I was concerned about missing my connecting train to Burton–on–Trent which was due to depart at 11.19. This was formed of a two coach Cross Country service from Cardiff to Nottingham and was almost full when I boarded it and was overcrowded on departure. This train was on time at Burton–on–Trent. I returned to Birmingham on the 15.49 service which arrived two minutes late. I went for a wander around Birmingham to get a meal before returning to Euston on the 19.10 service. This train was ten minutes late departing due to a passenger being taken ill on the train that was occupying the platform before it arrived. No advance fares were offered for my journey therefore the best value fare was a Super Off-Peak Return at £52.20. Bat & Ball to Burton–on–Trent and return is approximately 340 miles.

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