Senior Railcard Moments – March 2020

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 2020 to 31 March 2020 inclusive = £10.70 (Southeastern £10.70, Thameslink £0)

This month’s delays: total 11 minutes, Southeastern 11, Thameslink 0

Following the government restricting the number of people gathering at events due to the Coronavirus pandemic many were cancelled. Accordingly, I was then in possession of Advance railway tickets to destinations to which I no longer had any reason to travel. It was interesting how the different train operating companies responded to the public being asked by the government not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

One immediately e-mailed me and offered a refund on Advance tickets

Another offered fee free exchanges to travel on other dates

The others from whom I had purchased Advance tickets from still insisted that they were not refundable.

It occurred to me that there should be the same policy across all train operating companies in respect of Advance tickets in these exceptional circumstances. Accordingly, I contacted Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, and suggested that the government should instruct the train operating companies to provide refunds on Advance tickets. At the time of writing I have not received a reply. However, eleven days after I contacted Grant Shapps, all train operating companies were offering refunds for Advance purchase tickets. I have applied for mine, but none received yet. The next thing to consider is extensions to railcards or reduced-price renewals. That will have to wait until travel has returned to normal.

Friday 6 March – My first trip out on the railway is to Windsor. I departed Bat & Ball at 09.21 and arrived at Sevenoaks one minute early. The 09.29 to London Bridge departed Sevenoaks and arrived in London eight minutes late. I transferred to Paddington using the Jubilee and Bakerloo lines changing at Baker Street. My journey was further delayed due to problems on the preceding train with staff assisting a wheelchair user who experienced difficulties in leaving the train. In the coach I was travelling in from Baker Street to Paddington one young lady passenger was wearing a mask as a precaution against Coronavirus. However, she was amusing other passengers because whilst wearing the mask she was attempting to apply her face makeup! Bat & Ball to Windsor & Eton Central is approximately ninety-five miles. Departing Bat & Ball at 09.21 the fare offered was an Anytime Return at £34.80. The Off-Peak Day Return at £14.20 was available on the 09.51 departure but I wanted to commence my journey at 09.21. Accordingly, I bought an Off-Peak Day Travelcard at £11.55, plus an Off-Peak Day Return from West Drayton to Windsor & Eton Central at £3.50. Saving £19.75 and travelling when I wanted to. I was surprised to discover that it was £1.85 cheaper to travel via Paddington to Windsor than from Waterloo.

Friday 13 March – My destination is Winchester today. I had ever been there before and found it a pleasant city to visit. I departed Bat & Ball at 09.21 and arrived on time at Sevenoaks. As is frequently the case the 09.29 departure from Sevenoaks to London was running late, arriving at Waterloo East two minutes late. I travelled to Winchester on the 10.35 service from Waterloo. This train departed one minute early and arrived two minutes early. The fare offered for my journey was an “Anytime Day Return” at £64.30. I bought an “Off-Peak Day Travelcard” costing £11.55 plus an “Anytime Day Return” from Surbiton to Winchester at £18.75, saving £34.00.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic this was my last journey by train this month.

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