The Anonymous Widower

The Get You Home Ticket

This is very much a London problem, although there may be other places in the UK, where the problem occurs.

If I want to go to the football at Ipswich on a Tuesday night, I have three choices.

1. Go early before the rush hour restrictions apply.  I can use a cheap day ticket and come back on any train after the match. The problem of this, is that I have over two hours to wait in the town and there is nothing there, that I want to visit.  I can’t even have a meal, as there is no gluten-free restaurant in the town centre.

2. Book a seat on a rush hour train and pay more. I can though book a cheap return, if I nominate the train I want to return on.  but this method can’t be used, if there might be extra time in a cup match.  It also restricts me from having a drink or a snack after the match with friends.

3.  Book a rush hour ticket and buy an off peak single for the return before I travel, as they are not available in Ipswich. It’s all due to the old Network south East regulations I’m told.  Some London fans deliberately split the journey and use two tickets to get better prices.

It’s not just a football probem.  Suppose you live and work in London and a relative in Ipswich is ill in hospital. Or perhaps you want to visit the town to have dinner with friends. In many cases you won’t know when you want to return, so you won’t be able to book a cheap return, if you have to travel in the rush hour.

Many will drive for an evening visit, but then there are also many like me who either can’t drive or don’t have a car.

As an example, I shall be going to Ipswich for the Northampton match on the 9th August. Prices are as follows.

Travelling up during the rush hour, second with a railcard will cost £19.80 or £26.95, if I want to go on the comfortable Norwich train with a seat reservation.  Coming back after about 22:00, if I advance book it’s £5.30 on a specfic train or £22.30 if I don’t book a train.

I could of course travel up before the rush hour and use an off-peak return.  But the problem here is that the last train is 22:43.  There is a later one you can book on-line, but it gets into London at 05:55, so you wouldn’t use it anyway.

I think unless the mastch goes to penalties and there is a floodlight failure 22:43 is OK.  I should add, that when Ipswich played Leicester in the snow, it appeared that National Express East Anglia put on a soecial train to mop up the stragglers because of the weather.

I think the solution might be an evening return with a get you home option! So if you needed to go to Ipswich for the evening in the rush hour, you would pay the current price for the journey out and you would pay an appropriate price for the return. A price of half the off-peak return, might be sensible.  There might be some restriction, such as the return path was only valid after 21:30.

But whatever is offered is better than the cost of £22.30 that is currently the cheapest flexible fare. It would of course be a walk-up fare at the ticket office.

It may have marketing advantages, as no-one would book say a walk-up ticket to Ipswich returning that day for travel in the rush hour. But a ticket which was affordable on a spur-of-the-moment basis, might attract travellers.

I acknowledge that train companies aren’t charities, but I’m not asking for any discount on the outward rush hour journey and they might actually have more passengers on the rather empty late night trains.

July 29, 2011 - Posted by | Transport |

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