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Old 11th January 2017, 14:58   #1
Join Date: 5 Feb 2016
Posts: 38
Default Newtongrange to Oxford via London, avoiding a counted place reservation

Hello all,

I'd appreciate some advice on valid routes for a journey from Newtongrange (NEG) to Oxford (OXF) on 21st March. I wish to travel through London and avoid having a counted place reservation on the journey from London to Oxford, so that I can have time for a decent lunch at Paddington (PAD). I last did this a couple of years ago (though from Edinburgh!) after misunderstanding that I was able to take any train I wanted from Paddington to Oxford... I ended up an an almost empty HST and didn't see the guard at all so was unaware that I may have done something wrong.

I've worked out that by adding a station between PAD and OXF as a via point on the VTEC website then the following is suggested:

Newtongrange dep. 07:31
Change at:
Edinburgh arr. 07:59
dep. 08:30
London Kings Cross arr. 12:50
London Underground
London Paddington dep. 13:57
Oxford, 15:44

The 1357 from PAD is a stopper for which there are no reservations. As far as I can tell the restriction code for the ticket is GC, which states "Valid on Virgin Trains East Coast (TOC Code: GR) and connecting services. Seat reservations are compulsory." My questions about this itinerary are:

1. Am I still able to take a later train to OXF?
2. Does it have to be a stopper service?
3. Can I take a faster service from PAD to OXF?
4. Can I take a service from Marylebone (MYB) to OXF?
5. Will this ticket give me barrier problems if I try to use it at peak departure time from PAD or MYB?

Or, is there a better option (a return perhaps?) which will give me this flexibility with less hassle? Ultimately I'll claim back the cost of the ticket on expenses (and the distance involved means I can justify first class travel) but I do prefer to spend expense money as if it were my own. I've not yet decided on the route and date of the return.

All help gratefully appreciated!
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Old 11th January 2017, 19:14   #2
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Join Date: 5 Feb 2010
Posts: 21,197

Re: taking a later train, the one an hour (or even two) later is probably going to be fine, but one at 2100 from Paddington may cause issues. Exactly how late you can be can be open to interpretation but as long as you behave reasonably you should be fine. Officially you are not allowed to break your journey so off-tracking into a corner shop en route between the London terminals is a big no-no, but no one is going to care. Going off to have a sauna in Soho for a few hours is probably not going to be wise.

Officially HSTs which are reservable are not valid without a reservation, however I doubt you will get into trouble for doing so.

I think Chiltern Oxford services are reservable, although they work on a "counted place" basis only, so my assessment is the same as that for the Western HSTs, but you are even less likely to run into hassle as they are DOO.

I don't think barriers will reject them as long as they are correctly encoded in the magstripe, but anyone's guess whether they are correctly encoded in the first place.
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Old 12th January 2017, 00:11   #3
Join Date: 5 Feb 2016
Posts: 38

Thanks very much, I just wanted to be sure that I could have lunch without having to rush for a train! Having done the journey also on a CrossCountry service via Birmingham I actually prefer the London route with its transfers vs several hours on a Voyager.
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