Senior Railcard Moments September 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 September 2019 inclusive = £53.20
(Southeastern £25.10, Southern £2.00, South Western Railway £6.62, Thameslink £9.10, Virgin £10.38).
Three claims outstanding.

This month’s delays: total 81 minutes, Southeastern 74, Thameslink 7

Wednesday 4 September – My first journey this month was to Chappel and Wakes Colne. I departed Bat & Ball on the 09.21 to Sevenoaks where it arrived on time. The 09.29 to London Bridge departed two minutes late and was diverted to Cannon Street, arrival at London Bridge was four minutes late. I stayed on the train to Cannon Street and then transferred to Liverpool Street on the Circle line. I travelled on the 10.34 to Marks Tey where it arrived on time. The 12.02 to Chappel and Wakes Colne was on time. As this train approached Chappel and Wakes Colne the guard announced that “we will shortly be arriving at the beer festival, and Chappel and Wakes Colne”! The fares available for this journey were interesting, National Rail Enquiries offered: –

  • Enquiry, depart Bat & Ball at 09.15, (09.21), arrive at 12.08 – Anytime Day Return £59.80
  • Alternatively, two singles outwards £34.50, return £22.75, total £57.25
  • Enquiry, arrive Chappel & Wakes Colne 12.00, (12.08), departing Bat & Ball 09.21 – Anytime Day Return £59.80
  • Alternatively, two singles outwards £34.50, return £22.75, total £57.25
  • Enquiry, arrive Chappel & Wakes Colne 12.15, (12.08), departing Bat & Ball 09.21 – £26.80 Off-Peak Day Return!

Three different fares to travel on the same train services! Interestingly, the Off-Peak Day Return fare was reduced by £1.50 to £25.30 the following week. I asked a member of staff why the fare was being reduced and he could not supply an answer.

Thursday 5 September – My destination today is Kidderminster for the Severn Valley Railway to Bridgnorth. I commenced my journey on the 06.51 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks which arrived on time. The 07.03 to London Bridge arrived three minutes late. I transferred to Euston using the Northern Line. I travelled to Birmingham New Street on the 08.23 service. Unfortunately, this train was delayed due to a problem near to London and a fatality north of Coventry, one hour late arriving in Birmingham. After quickly crossing central Birmingham to Snow Hill station my arrival at Kidderminster was also one hour late. I eventually arrived at Bridgnorth one hour twenty minutes later than I should have, albeit the steam railway service was on time. After returning to Kidderminster I intended travelling back into Birmingham on the 17.25 departure, but this was cancelled, therefore I used the 17.38 train which was on time. The West Midland Railway was having problems the following train service was also cancelled. These cancellations were blamed on staff shortages. I travelled back to Euston on the 18.50 service which arrived one minute late. Much to my surprise I knew the person that was sitting in the seat next to me. The fares paid for today’s travel were Bat & Ball to Kidderminster £43.25 and Kidderminster to Bat & Ball £16.85.

Thursday 12 September – My destination is Herne Bay today. I departed Bat & Ball on the 09.25 to Bromley South where it arrived on time. The 09.57 from Bromley South arrived one minute early at Herne Bay. After wandering around the resort and undertaking some consumer research, I returned from Herne Bay on the 15.16 service to Bromley South where it arrived on time. This train was one four coach class 375 unit but only one coach had working air-conditioning. Based on my recent experiences there appear to be several class 375 units with air-conditioning problems.

Friday 13 September – I needed to do a few things in London today. Armed with a One Day Travelcard I departed Bat & Ball at 09.52 and arrived one minute early at Sevenoaks. The 09.59 from Sevenoaks departed two minutes late and was also two minutes late arriving at Waterloo East. South of London Bridge where the new flyover and dive-under junctions were installed during the rebuilding of London Bridge station one retaining wall under a bridge span was recently covered in graffiti, today the train was moving slow enough, and the light was just right, to be able to read it. I was surprised to see that it was a line of Black Sabbath’s 1970 song “Paranoid”, “People think I am insane because I am frowning all the time”.

Wednesday 18 September – My destination is Birmingham today; I am going to the “Home of Metal” exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. This is celebrating fifty years of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. I look on it as a sort of pilgrimage! I commenced my journey on the 09.21 from Bat & Ball to Sevenoaks where it arrived one minute early. The 09.29 to London Bridge was very busy but I got a seat arrival was seven minutes late in London. I transferred on the Northern line to Euston. The 11.03 to Birmingham New Street arrived two minutes early. Early arrivals at Birmingham New Street are rare in my experience. The Post Office Vaults were visited for a glass of lunch before my allotted time at the exhibition. The event was well attended, and very interesting with many exhibits to see, Black Sabbath’s music was being played in the hall. After about an hour and a half when I left the lady on the entrance asked me if I enjoyed it and I replied that I had. However, I could not resist suggesting that to make it more realistic the music should be played louder! After leaving the exhibition I walked a circular route back to New Street station undertaking some consumer research on the way. This included walking down Broad Street and over the Black Sabbath Bridge, pausing to look at the commemorative bench that is located on the bridge. I departed Birmingham New Street on the 18.50 service, this left at 19.03 due to being delayed on the inward journey. Arrival at Euston was fourteen minutes late. Accordingly, I missed the 20.49 departure from London Bridge to Sevenoaks and used the 21.09 service to Sevenoaks where it arrived two minutes late. The 21.52 from Sevenoaks departed one minute early. However, my journey was delayed by thirty minutes therefore I intended submitting a Delay Repay claim using Virgin’s Website. However, the Website is currently not working, it appears to have broken links due to the error messages being displayed. After three days trying, I gave up and e-mailed my claim direct to Virgin Customer Relations. My tickets today were an Off-Peak Travelcard costing £11.20 for my journey to and from Euston, and two Advance Singles costing £5.60 each for my journeys between Euston and Birmingham. The same return fare for about five times the distance travelled!

Thursday 19 September– I am heading for York today. I started my journey from Bat & Ball at 06.21 to Sevenoaks where arrival was one minute early. The 06.31 to London Bridge arrived there on time. These were the trains I travelled on in my commuting days, and I sat in the carriage on the 06.31 that I used to every day. However, today I did not see any of the people that travelled in my commuting days. I used the 06.58 Thameslink train to St Pancras where it arrived on time. I walked to Kings Cross and waited for the 08.06 to York. This train departed on time and arrived in York two minutes late. Kings Cross to York and return is 377 miles, the fare paid was £24.70, the fare from Bat & Ball to St Pancras and return was £21.60.

Wednesday 25 September – My destination is St Albans today. I commenced my journey on the 09.21 to Sevenoaks which was on time. Indeed all the trains were within three minutes of time today – and I arrived back at Bat & Ball one minute early! The return fares for this journey were interesting, three different fares for using the same train services: –

  • Bat & Ball 9.21 – St Albans 10.41, (via Sevenoaks and London Bridge) – Anytime Day Return £41.00
  • Bat & Ball 9.21 – City Thameslink Off-Peak Day Return £8.65 + City Thameslink – St Albans 10.41 Off-Peak Day Return £8.65, the two tickets save £23.70!
  • Bat & Ball 9.21 – Off-Peak One Day Travelcard, (valid to Elstree and Borehamwood), £11.20 + Elstree and Borehamwood – St Albans 10.41 Off-Peak Day Return £5.55, this option saved me £24.25!

Thursday 26 September – A short trip to London today for my monthly meeting in the Crosse Keys with my former work mates. I departed Bat & Ball at 14.51 and was on time at Sevenoaks. The 14.59 to London Bridge arrived one minute early. I returned on the 19.19 from London Bridge which arrived three minutes late at Sevenoaks. The 19.52 to Bat & Ball was on time.

Friday 27 September – I am heading for Canterbury today. I commenced my journey on the 09.21 from Bat & Ball four minutes late at 09.25. This train arrived two minutes late at Sevenoaks. Southeastern were not having a good day, problems with points in the Lewisham/Hither Green area were delaying services. The 09.41 to Canterbury West was expected at 09.55, it eventually departed at 10.05. Online when I checked the train times for this journey, the 09.41 service was advised as being a short formation due to tree damage to a four-coach unit which was under repair. However, an eight-coach train appeared. This service was held at Ashford International whilst a decision was taken as to whether the High-Speed service should be allowed to proceed first. The train I was on eventually departed first and arrived at Canterbury West sixteen minutes late. My first 15+ minutes Delay Repay claim to Southeastern. I returned from Canterbury West on the 15.05 to Ashford International where it arrived two minutes late. I changed here on to the 15.32 to Sevenoaks. It departed seven minutes late and arrived at Sevenoaks four minutes late, the 16.22 to Bat & Ball could be seen departing from platform four as we came to a stop on platform one. Accordingly, I experienced a half an hour delay to my journey because I missed my connection and had to wait for the 16.52 service, this train arrived at Bat & Ball on time. A 30+ minutes Delay Repay claim submitted to Southeastern.

Delay Repay claims Southeastern have new Delay Repay pages on their website; this is more automated than the previous version and requires more details about your journey to be entered.

Extra Baggage – I recently read an interesting article in a magazine which mentioned an amusing railway related issue in Kent. The actor Sydney Greenstreet, who was born in Sandwich in 1879, possibly most remembered for his part in the film “Casablanca”, taking the role of “Ferrari”, was a large person weighing in at about twenty-one stone. When Sydney was working in the U.K., he regularly visited Sandwich. On one occasion, whilst travelling there by train he needed to change trains at Ashford. On arriving at Ashford, the train that he wanted to board was already beside a platform and he needed to use a footbridge to cross to this platform. Being too large to run across the footbridge between platforms, he therefore in a very loud voice shouted, “Hold the train, there is a very large party coming!”. People hearing this thought that a lot of passengers were changing trains. Instead Sydney slowly negotiated the footbridge and boarded the train. Apparently, those watching this event cheered as Sydney boarded the train.

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