The Anonymous Widower

And The Wires Came Tumbling Down!

Today, I intended to go to Doncaster on the 11:03 train to Leeds from Kings Cross.

I had intended to travel in First on an Azuma, to see what the quality was like.

So I booked an Advance ticket online for around £50.

But then the train didn’t run, as the wires had come tumbling down!

This must be the third time, I’ve been affected by faulty overhead wires on the East Coast Main Line in the last few years.

In one case, we were delayed for about two hours and in the other, it didn’t affect me for long, as I was in an InterCity 125, which drove through the problem.

I have lost my fifty pounds, as you take the risk with an Advance Ticket.

Conclusion

The electrification on the East Coast Main Line seems to be built and maintained by morons.

Next time, I take the train on the East Coast Main Line, I’ll check trains are running before buying a ticket.

 

 

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 13 Comments

Mayor Drops Plans To Close London Overground Ticket Offices

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The Mayor of London has dropped plans to close ticket offices at 51 London Overground stations.

Busy stations will continue to operate as usual, though many will have opening hours reduced to just two-and-a-half hours per day, City Hall said.

Although the Unions objected to the Mayor’s original plans and this has probably prompted the Mayor’s U-turn, I think that staff in ticket offices will disappear within perhaps five years.

The only time, I see anyone use the Ticket Office at Dalston Junction station, is probably to sort out a ticketing issue with the machines, which are becoming increasingly rare, as Transport for London are increasing their numbers and replacing older machines with better designs.

Also as Dalston Junction is a busy station, there is usually someone manning the gate-line, who can help.

But over the next few years, the following will happen.

  • More and more passengers will use contactless ticketing with bank cards.
  • Contactless ticketing will expand widely, so that for most journeys in the UK, you would just touch-in and touch-out.
  • Oyster will cease to be used and be withdrawn.
  • Gateline technology will get better.
  • Staff working on the gateline and platforms, will be better equipped with mobile technology to sort out problems.
  • Ticket machines will develop into sophisticated multi-language help points.
  • Cash will disappear from daily life and stations.
  • Train companies will continue to be short of drivers and will look for other staff that can be retrained.

On a related note, increasingly, London Underground and Overground are being targeted by organised gangs of beggars. This means they need more staff on the gateline to control the problem.

I can see a time, when working in a ticket office will be a very lonely and boring job, that no-one will want to do.

So like the dinosaurs, they will just die out!

 

 

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Rip-Off Ticketing At Bremen Hauptbahnhof

I am experienced user of Deutsche Bahn and generally buy my tickets at one of their reliable machines.

Note that queuing up at a Ticket Office sometimes takes up to thirty minutes and quite frankly I have better and more important thingfs to do with my life.

This picture shows a typical German ticket.

The two stations; Buxtehude and Cuxhaven are clearly shown.

But imagine my surprise at Bremen Hauptbahnhof, when the ticket machine dispensed this.

It is about one by four centimetres and the only readable writing on the front is EErw.

  • Does it look like a ticket to you?
  • There were no notices up about the change of ticket.
  • How do you sort out today’s ticket from yesterday’s?
  • What if you’re partially sighted?

I thought the machine had failed and curt off the ticket early.

So I tried again. With the same result!

I then tried the Ticket Office for an explanation, but the guy just played stumm, as Deutsche Bahn employees always do, when they know, there’s been a customer relations failure.

I did ascertain, that I had to put the ticket in a machine to validate it before travelling.

I did think about not doing this, so that I would get arrested on the train, but in the end, I can’t remember whether I did.

However, as tickets were not checked on the train, it didn’t matter.

It is the most arrogant system of ticketing I’ve ever found.

When I got home, I found I had been charge for two tickets.

My bank;Nationwide are trying to refuse one of the psyments.

I’ll update this post, to give you the result of their argument.

 

 

 

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

DfT Urged To Make Operators Reveal If Trains Are Electric Or Diesel Due To Carbon Concerns

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on |Engineering And Technology.

This is the first paragraph.

Nearly half of rail passengers would like to know how their trains are powered according to a new poll of 1,025 regular rail users from train ticket retailer Loco2.

I think that loco2 are on the right track.

London And Birmingham

For instance take the route between London and Birmingham, where you have three different train operators.

  • Virgin Trains – 125 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Fast, cramped and the most expensive
  • West Midland Trains – 110 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Slower, more space and reasonably priced
  • Chiltern Railways – 100 mph diesel trains between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations – Slower, most comfortable and reasonable priced

If I need to get to Birmingham in a hurry, a use Virgin, but if I want a comfortable journe at a lower pricey, where I can spread my paper on a large table, I take Chiltern.

Those that pay the money make their choice.

Knowing the carbon footprint might persuade some passengers to take a particular train operating company, but I think it would have an effect on train operating companies, if they were perceived to have a low carbon rating.

In my example, the only diesel operator of the three; Chiltern Railways, probably can’t switch to electric traction, as electrifying the route would be prohibitively expensive.

  • They can offset their carbon footprint, by perhaps planting trees.
  • There will also be technology that will cut their diesel consumption.

After that it’s down to the strength of their marketing.

London And Scotland

The competition for trains between London and Scotland is the airlines.

Publishing carbon footprints would favour the trains, as there is a lot of electrification on Scottish routes.

The Man In Seat 61 gives his view on this page of his web site.

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Monetarising The Freedom Pass

I find my Freedom Pass extremely valuable and I’m extremely grateful for it, as I can’t drive after a serious stroke, that left me with eyesight problems.

But I feel Freedom Pass use could be expanded, to improve the efficiency of London’s transport network and generate some much needed cash flow for Transport for London.

Some Principles

What I am proposing here will obey these principles.

  • Charges will only occur, when the card is used in conjunction with a bank card to buy tickets or services.
  • Any tickets or services bought through the Freedom Pass system, will be at the best possible price.

But the major principle will be that if a Freedom Pass holder continues to use their card as they do now, they will not pay any charges.

An Updated Web Site

The current web site at www.freedompass.org is mainly for information only.

This function could be increased, but I also think the website could be extended in several ways.

A Personal Profile

Some pass holders might like to add a personal profile with perhaps a photograph and selected personal details, next of kin and some medical details.

Obviously, creating a profile would be at the pass holder’s discretion.

Journey Logging

I believe that with Oyster, you can check where you’ve been on a ticket machine.

Some Freedom Pass holders might like to have a similar facility on a web site.

Railcard Management

If you have a Freedom Pass, the site will know if you are over a certain age or have a qualifying disability. I would actually get a Freedom Pass, even if I wasn’t quite as old, as my eyesight was deemed not good enough to drive.

So the Freedom Pass web site could prompt you when you needed to renew your Railcard.

Adding A Bank Card To A Freedom Pass

To get between Dalston Junction and Gatwick Airport stations, I need to buy a ticket from the Zone 6 Boundary to the Airport. It would be very handy, if a Freedom Pass could be linked to a bank card, so that there was no need to buy an extra ticket. The few pounds to get to the Airport, would be automatically charged to the linked bank card.

I would not need to buy a ticket and would just touch in at Dalston Junction station and touch out at Gatwick Airport. My bank card would be charged a few pounds.

The link would also work, where a journey was done before the 09:30 start time of Freedom Pass on many routes.

So if Esmerelda, who lived in Camden wanted to get to Orpington to walk her grandchildren to school., she would be able to use the Freedom Pass for a normal fare, which would be charged to her bank card.

I would assume that Transport for London would pick up a small commission for the National Rail tickets.

A Ticket Buying Web Site

Depending on the company, the rules for using Freedom Passes with National Rail tickets aren’t always simple.

Yesterday, I went to football at Ipswich and bought a return ticket between Harold Wood and Ipswich stations.

  • Harold Wood is the Zone 6 boundary.
  • I was also able to get on a Liverpool Street to Norwich train, despite it not stopping at Harold Wood.
  • As a Greater Anglia ticket inspector told me off for not doing this about six months ago, when he saw my Freedom Pass alongside my Senior Railcard, when he checked my tickets, I feel it must be right.

But I don’t think all train companies are so accommodating.

Suppose you were able to buy any rail ticket on the Freedom Pass web site and I wanted to buy a return ticket on a Saturday from Dalston Junction to Ipswich.

  • Logging in, the site would know I had a Freedom Pass and a Senior Railcard.
  • I would ask for my ticket and then the web site would find my cheapest ticket.
  • I would pay for it as one does on any of the numerous rail ticket web-sites.

But it would probably add a third orange ticket, giving my route and conditions.

Should Ticket Buying Be Limited To Freedom Pass Holders?

If you are a London resident, would you use a trusted ticket buying web site from Transport for London, where you knew any profits would be reinvested in London’s transport network?

If it was a best price, I would!

Conclusion

The right design of web site could be a nice little earner for Transport for London.

Or any other regionalised transport organisation, like Transport for Wales or Merseytravel.

December 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

They’re Supposed To Be No Frills Airlines

I am going to Switzerland next week and needed a ticket from Geneva to London to get back.

The process to buy a ticket has grown from a simple choose a flight, put in passenger details and pay, to a complete conversation with the Devil.

I don’t want a hotel, car hire, to pay extra for anything, so please can we have a secret door to by-pass all that junk?

And whilst I’m at it, why not abolish duty-free, as this slows down boarding and costs everybody on their ticket.

I would have taken the train back, but Eurostar is almost sold out and I might not have the flexibility I need in Switzerland.

At least Eurostar has a fairly streamlined booking.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Would Third-Party Rail Ticket Machines Be A Good Idea?

I travel extensively on the UK rail network and my journeys are generally of three types.

  1. Local journeys within the London Zone 1-6 Travelcard area, for which I use my Freedom Pass.
  2. Journeys to places like Brighton, Hastings,  Ipswich and Rochester, where I generally buy a ticket from a machine.
  3. Long distance journeys, where I use the Internet and pick up the ticket at a machine.

I suspect that many travellers across the UK, have a similar pattern of use.

The Changing Nature Of Cash Machines

Forty years ago, there were an adequate number of cash machines, but they were generally associated with bank premises.

I can remember my delight, when I first found a machine in a motorway service area.

Now, cash machines are everywhere and all are free. Although, there are mutterings, that charges might be made and the number of machines will drop, due to contactless cards.

A Third-Party Rail Ticket Machine

At present, the nearest to this are the ticket machines on the London Overground.

The latest ones allow you to do all the normal ticketing functions, with these valuable additions.

  • Buying a ticket between any two stations in the UK.
  • Buying an extension ticket from the London Zone 6 boundary.
  • Prices are generally the lowest you can purchase, on the Internet without using Advance Tickets for specific trains.

These feature means, that if say I’m going to a football match outside London in a few days, I’ll buy my ticket from the Overground.

Ticket machines will add more and more features.

  • Train information.
  • Itinerary printing.
  • Buying Advance tickets for a specific train.
  • Seat reservations.
  • Special tickets like Plus Bus, Plus Tram and Rover and Ranger tickets.
  • Selling railcards

Imagine turning up in a city and being presented with a screen on the same machine, which allows you to buy Travelcards and tickets for local attractions.

As the machines get more sophisticated, I believe there will be less need for ticket machines to be at train stations.

So could we see companies like The Trainline putting ticket machines in places like shopping centres, superstores and the smaller shops that service Oyster in London?

If the financial model stacks up, I’m sure we will see ticket machines everywhere!

Ticket Machines On Platforms And In Ticketed Areas

In Germany, there is often a ticket machine after you have passed the gate.

I find it very useful, as they can be used to buy tickets for a later journey or look up future connections.

I only know of one ticket machine inside the ticketed area in the UK and that is on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

We need more of these!

Would a third-party company be more likely to provide them? Especially, as they’d quickly identify the most profitable places, where there were large numbers of interchange or waiting passengers.

Collateral Benefits

Making rail tickets more available will surely increase sales. Suppose you live in Nottingham and your mother lives in Peterborough. You’ve just had a bad drive across the Midlands to see her for her birthday.

Will a ticket machine in your local superstore, lead youto investigate the trains as an alternative?

If it does, it must surely lead to more passengers on the trains.

Train companies are notoriously bad, at making sure that a weekend service has enough carriages.

Making it easier to buy tickets would surely give them a better estimate of passenger numbers.

But would the train companies make use of the information?

Conclusion

We’ll see a lot more ticket machines.

Some will be from third-party operators. Just like cash machines!

 

 

January 4, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , | 1 Comment

I Like This!

This article in the Guardian is entitled Virgin Trains and six other companies agree to sell advance tickets on the day.

Goodeee!

This is said,

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the train operators and Network Rail, said customers of Grand Central, Greater Anglia, Northern, TransPennine Express, Virgin Trains East Coast, Virgin Trains West Coast and those using the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Scotland can now also buy Advance tickets for many trains on the day of travel.

The price of football has just dropped, as I can buy my ticket to Ipswich on Saturday morning and might make a saving.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

Do You Have A Child Approaching Twenty-Four Who Uses Trains?

Martin Lewis came up with this tip on BBC Radio 5.

If a Young Person’s Railcard is bough on a three-year basis, it stretches a few months past, their twenty-seventh birthday.

He did say you had to get your dates right!

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

Between Exeter St. Davids And Exeter Central Stations

Exeter St. Davids and Exeter Central are important stations in Exeter.

  • Many services call at both stations.
  • The two stations are about five minutes apart by train.
  • It takes fifteen to twenty minutes to walk between the two stations.
  • Exeter Central station is in the centre of the city and an easy walk to stops and restaurants.
  • Exeter St. Davis station is the junction station, where lines to and from the city meet.

The problem is that it is a very stiff walk up the hill from Exeter St. Davids station to Exeter Central station.

What eases matters, is that every few minutes, a train connects the lower St. Davids to the higher Central.

These pictures document a trip between the two stations.

Note the quality of the trains.

When staying in Exeter, if you come by train, make sure you pick a hotel at the best station for your visit.

I stayed in the Premier Inn by the station and met a couple, who were using the Mercure, which they didn’t fault.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the stations in Exeter.

My ticket between the two main Exeter stations,  cost  £1.50 for an Anytime Day Return, but you can’t help thinking that the various train companies working in the area are looking at ways of improving the ticketing.

The fact that First Group is now involved in the two main franchises must help.

But as a visitor, who understands ticketing, I found my £6.60 Devon Day Rangers more than adequate.

 

 

 

 

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment