Break of Journey Fiasco

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markbhaven

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I have for weeks been trying to get clarity from Virgin Trains, on the conditions for break of journey for off peak returns.

I regularly travel from Euston to Manchester with a stop over in Stoke on the return portion to see my elderly parents. I have never had a problem with this.

However, a few weeks back a revenue inspector told me I could only break once and must resume by midday. I told him I thought this only applied on the outbound and not return and he disagreed. I asked him to show me where it said this in the fares manual, NRCOC etc and he said it was "company policy".. but he would let me off.

I decided to get clarity and rang and emailed national rail and virgin. I have since had SEVEN sets of advice. Varying from "Break as often as you like for as long as you like providing you complete by 04.29 the day after ticket expiry" to "You can only break and resume by midday, and only once on either outbound or return".

On each occassion I asked where this information was obtained and no-one has been able to tell me.

I contacted the DFT who told me that OFF PEAK RETURNS were (more or less) replacement tickets for Savers introduced as part of 'fare simplification'. They said that a break of journey on a return portion has ALWAYS been permitted in the NRCOC unless explicitly forbidden in restriction codes, publicised AND communicated at time of purchase.

In fact, they told me they would never agree to restricting the length of a break a journey on a regulated ticket as this would impact on tourism at intermediate stations and also confuse the hell out of customers.

So, who is right? The wording on the national rail enquiries website is confusing (deliberately?).. I know you guys are the experts so can you

1. Tell me what the rule actually is
2. Word this in plain english, so I can suggest to the Chief Execs Office at Virgin (yes, its gone that far) to issue this as clear guidance.

Thanks

Mark
 
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142094

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A Euston - Manchester SVR Off Peak Return priced at £74.20 has a restriction code of 9I, which is quite long:

Restriction 9I said:
Restriction Code: 9I
These restrictions apply
MONDAY to FRIDAY. By any train
on other days.

For journeys to/via Birmingham
on Cross Country, use
restriction code 2V.

For travel FROM or VIA:
London Terminals,_Milton
Keynes, Watford, Stevenage,
Reading, Kensington Olympia,
Bedford, Luton and Luton
Airport Parkway.

OUTWARD TRAVEL
You may travel on any train
that is scheduled to DEPART as
shown below:

RETURN TRAVEL
You may travel on any train
that is scheduled to ARRIVE_as
shown below:

DEPART: LONDON EUSTON
Before 0430, between 0926 &
1500 (inc.) and at or after
1845.

ARRIVE: LONDON EUSTON
Before 0720 or at or after
1130.

DEPART: LONDON KING'S CROSS
Before 0300, between 0906 &
1459 (inclusive) and at or
after 1859.
(Also allowed at or after 1815
on Fridays)

ARRIVE: LONDON KING'S CROSS
Before 0430 and at or after
1117.

DEPART: LONDON ST PANCRAS
INTERNATIONAL
Between 1026 & 1515 (inc.) and
at or after 1859.

ARRIVE: LONDON ST PANCRAS
INTERNATIONAL
At or after 1129.

DEPART:LONDON LIVERPOOL STREET
Between 0930 & 1629 (inc.) and
at or after 1834.

ARRIVE:LONDON LIVERPOOL_STREET
Not valid on any train
arriving before 10.00
(see note below)

DEPART: LONDON MARYLEBONE
Between 0926 & 1500 (inc.) and
at or after 1845.

ARRIVE: LONDON MARYLEBONE
Before 0720 or at or after
1130.

DEPART: LONDON PADDINGTON
Between 0810 & 1640 (inc.) and
at or after 1801.

ARRIVE: LONDON PADDINGTON
At or after 1010.

DEPART: LONDON WATERLOO
At or after 0815

ARRIVE: LONDON WATERLOO
At or after 1000

DEPART: KENSINGTON OLYMPIA
Between 0915 & 1514 (inc.)
and at or after 1812.

ARRIVE: KENSINGTON OLYMPIA
At or after 1100

DEPART: CLAPHAM JUNCTION
At or after 0930

ARRIVE : CLAPHAM JUNCTION
Any train

DEPART: BEDFORD
Between 0901 & 1629 (inc.)
and at or after 1859

ARRIVE: BEDFORD
At or after 0930

DEPART: LUTON/LUTON AIRPORT
________PARKWAY
Between 0901 & 1629 (inc.) and
at or after 1859

ARRIVE: LUTON/LUTON AIRPORT
PARKWAY
At or after 1004

DEPART: MILTON KEYNES CENTRAL
Before 0430, between 0951 &
1514 (inclusive) and at or
after 1914.

ARRIVE: MILTON KEYNES CENTRAL
Before 0639 or at or after
1048.

DEPART: READING
Between 0835 & 1710 (inc.) and
at or after 1831 (see note
below)

ARRIVE: READING
At or after 0940 (see note
below)

DEPART: STEVENAGE
Before 0300, between 0919 and
1507 (inclusive) and at or
after 1901 (Also allowed at or
after 1835 on Fridays_only)

ARRIVE: STEVENAGE
Before 0430 and at or after
1055

DEPART: STRATFORD (LONDON)
Between 0930 & 1629 (inc.)
and at or after 1834

ARRIVE: STRATFORD (LONDON)
Not valid on any train
arriving before 1000.

DEPART: WATFORD JUNCTION
Before 0430, between 0938 &
1438 (inclusive) and at or
after 1838.

ARRIVE: WATFORD JUNCTION
Before 0644 or at or after
1045.

NOTES:

OVERNIGHT BREAK OF JOURNEY
Restarting journey from an
intermediate station.
Outward (on day 2): outward
morning restrictions as above
apply from/via the stations
shown above (Mon-Fri) and
journey must recommence before
12:00 (all days).
Recommencing from any other
station en route that is north
of the stations shown above
must be on trains timed to
depart 09:30-11:59 inc. (by
any train before 12:00 on BH
and other days).
Return: return restrictions_as
above apply Mon-Fri.

Note A:
Travel to all stations
Worcester Shrub Hill to
Hereford (via Oxford) is also
permitted on the 1722, 1750
and 1822 services from
London Paddington (1751, 1823
and 1852 from Reading).
Travel to Gowerton and beyond
is also permitted on the 1745
London Paddington to
Carmarthen service (1812 from
Reading).
Travel to Newton Abbott and
beyond, and all stations
Newton St Cyres to Barnstaple,
is permitted on the 1803
London Paddington to Penzance
service (1833 from Reading).
Travel to Menheniot and beyond
is also permitted on the 1703
London Paddington - Penzance
service (1732 from Reading) on
FRIDAYS ONLY.
For Off-Peak travel via
Hereford, Oxford & Newport see
Restriction YG.
For Super Off-Peak travel via
Hereford, Oxford & Newport see
Restriction YQ.

Valid on all SCOTRAIL (FSR)
CALEDONIAN SLEEPER services
(with supplement).
Travel is permitted on the
0603 Euston to Birmingham New
St. and both the 0500 & 0524
Wolverhampton to Euston.

Off-Peak restrictions will not
apply on Virgin Trains service
from 6 - 9 April 2012 inc.
That is the specific restriction for the ticket, but the general conditions state that Break of Journey is allowed in all cases on the return portion of an Off Peak Return:

Break of Journey said:
Return portions of Off-Peak
Return tickets are valid for
travel until 0230 on the day
following the last day of
validity (i.e. one calendar
month from outward journey).
If a passenger is_still
travelling at 0230, they
may stay on the train to
complete that part of the
journey but no further break
of journey is allowed and all
travel must be completed by
1200.
So it sounds as if the Revenue Protection Inspector is getting confused with break of journey on the outward portion.
 

markbhaven

Member
Joined
10 Jul 2012
Messages
7
Thanks for posting the conditions. I think they get confused with the sentrence
'Return: return restrictions_as above apply Mon-Fri.' and assume this means the return break of journey restriction has the same condition as outbound. I think its actually meant to mean the GENERAL return retsrictions (times, routes etc) and not break conditions.

Its all very badly worded. Can anyone write something sensible? I'd like to propose this to the Chief Execs office rather than just moaning at them

M
 

142094

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Normally it will state in the general conditions that a Break of Journey is always allowed on the return portion of an Off Peak ticket unless there is something contained in the restriction that prohibits this. As far as I can tell there isn't anything in the 9I restriction that prohibits what you from stopping off at Stoke on the way back south, but you would have to arrive at Euston before 07.20 or after 11.30.
 

Greenback

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Location
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Thanks for posting the conditions. I think they get confused with the sentrence
'Return: return restrictions_as above apply Mon-Fri.' and assume this means the return break of journey restriction has the same condition as outbound. I think its actually meant to mean the GENERAL return retsrictions (times, routes etc) and not break conditions.

Its all very badly worded. Can anyone write something sensible? I'd like to propose this to the Chief Execs office rather than just moaning at them

M
It isn't particularly well worded, but I suspect that this is at least partly due to the complicated restrictions on peak trains that are involved.

The only thing I would suggest is that something is inserted to emphasise that on the return leg break of journey is allowed and journeys do not have to resume before 1200. I don't see why it should be down to members of the public to suggest improvements, though, when it is the TOC that has written it, they need to put it right!

I would ask that Virgin review both the wording of the restriction and their training for revenue inspectors to ensure that the same misunderstanding does not occur again. Request their assurance that this issue will be addressed, and that they let you know the outcome (of the wording review at any rate).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The key point is not whether I can break, but
1. How long for
2. How often
Technically, you can break your journey at every station on the way back, as long as you do not double back, or go over the month validity! Ther eis no restriction on how long you can break your journey, provided that you remain within that month's validity.
 

142094

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As Greenback says, you can stop off at as many stations and for as long as you want on the way back, as long as you do not go beyond the ticket's validity, and that you make sure you arrive at Euston before 07.20 or after 11.30 on the final leg.

Best advice would be to get a printout of the restriction at the booking office the next time you are making the trip. I doubt that Virgin or ATOC would be willing to change the wording of the restriction code, but I agree it could be made clearer.
 

markbhaven

Member
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Messages
7
This what Virgin Customer Relations said to me in their latest email

"I can confirm that there is no limit on the number of breaks of journey you can take when you are travelling with an Off Peak Return. However there is a limit on the period of time during which a break can be taken. If you do break a journey, the journey must be continued the following day and completed by 4.29am on the third day for instance, if you break your journey on Monday, it must be completed by 4.29am on Wednesday.
There was originally a midday limit on recommencing the journey, but this was changed in October 2011 to make the restrictions more flexible.
."


Any comments on that one?? Are they merely confusing outward / last day of validity resume with conditions DURING the validity?
 

Greenback

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Best advice would be to get a printout of the restriction at the booking office the next time you are making the trip. I doubt that Virgin or ATOC would be willing to change the wording of the restriction code, but I agree it could be made clearer.
As it appears to be the wording and the interpretation of it by the staff member that has caused the problem on this occasion, then I would definitely ask for both aspects to be looked at, though I agree it is less likely that the wording will be changed than a briefing sent round to staff!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
This what Virgin Customer Relations said to me in their latest email

"I can confirm that there is no limit on the number of breaks of journey you can take when you are travelling with an Off Peak Return. However there is a limit on the period of time during which a break can be taken. If you do break a journey, the journey must be continued the following day and completed by 4.29am on the third day for instance, if you break your journey on Monday, it must be completed by 4.29am on Wednesday.
There was originally a midday limit on recommencing the journey, but this was changed in October 2011 to make the restrictions more flexible.
."


Any comments on that one?? Are they merely confusing outward / last day of validity resume with conditions DURING the validity?
Yes, they are wrong! Sadly, this is not unusual when dealing with customer relations or customer services. You sometimes need to escalate the matter to get the correct response, as I had to with FGW and Good Friday restrictions (I was initially told they would be enforced as per a normal Friday, despite journey planners and the knowledgeable members on here disagreeing. The second reply admitted their mistake.)
 

142094

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This what Virgin Customer Relations said to me in their latest email

"I can confirm that there is no limit on the number of breaks of journey you can take when you are travelling with an Off Peak Return. However there is a limit on the period of time during which a break can be taken. If you do break a journey, the journey must be continued the following day and completed by 4.29am on the third day for instance, if you break your journey on Monday, it must be completed by 4.29am on Wednesday.
There was originally a midday limit on recommencing the journey, but this was changed in October 2011 to make the restrictions more flexible.
."


Any comments on that one?? Are they merely confusing outward / last day of validity resume with conditions DURING the validity?
Sounds as if they are looking at the wrong restriction code, otherwise I have no idea. To be honest, you can contact Virgin or any other TOC 10 times regarding ticketing matters and get 10 different answers, and none of them will be the actual correct answer. It is a combination of poor training and confusing ticketing.

As long as we are talking about the £74.20 ticket, then the above restriction is correct.
 

markbhaven

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Messages
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Thanks everyone for the clarification. I suspected they were confused at customer relations as two train guards (or whatever they're called now) told me it was rubbish and I could use it as you said. You should get togther and charge virgin a fee for deciphering/interpeting their own terminology for them..

I'll see what the CEO office have to say and let you all know..

m
 

Greenback

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Yes, please let us know how it pans out. It's also useful to know what happens so that we can advise others if we get similar reports in the future.
 

exile

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This has been raised several times before without a satisfactory answer. On the outward journey the common sense view is that you can clearly start it as late as you wish which implies that an overnight break of journey must be permitted - example, Inverness to Penzance, starting your journey after work. However some interpretations of the conditions suggest such an itinerary is not permitted so you are obliged to start your journey in time to get to Penzance before 0429 the next morning. If you start your journey in the morning and decide to stop off in Edinburgh for an overnight stay.... it's not at all clear what the position is.
 

bb21

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This what Virgin Customer Relations said to me in their latest email

"I can confirm that there is no limit on the number of breaks of journey you can take when you are travelling with an Off Peak Return. However there is a limit on the period of time during which a break can be taken. If you do break a journey, the journey must be continued the following day and completed by 4.29am on the third day for instance, if you break your journey on Monday, it must be completed by 4.29am on Wednesday.
There was originally a midday limit on recommencing the journey, but this was changed in October 2011 to make the restrictions more flexible.
."


Any comments on that one?? Are they merely confusing outward / last day of validity resume with conditions DURING the validity?
This is the rule for the outward portion of a (Super) Off-Peak Return.

On the return portion, you may break as many times as you like along a permitted route, as mentioned by Greenback, provided that you stick with applicable time restrictions and all travel is completed by 0429 on the day following the expiry date.
 

island

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As Greenback says, you can stop off at as many stations and for as long as you want on the way back, as long as you do not go beyond the ticket's validity, and that you make sure you arrive at Euston before 07.20 or after 11.30 on the final leg.
It's slightly more restrictive that that: you cannot use any train that arrives at Euston between 0720 and 1129 on a weekday on any leg, whether or not you are planning to go to Euston on it.
 

markbhaven

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I finally got a response from Virgin Chief Executives Office, You guys were totally correct on break of journey. You can break as often and as long as you like within ticket valdity of return portion of an off peak return. Here's what they said in their letter..

Having made further enquiries, and spoken to our Retail team regarding your query, I can confirm that the industry’s official source of retail information makes no reference to how many times you can break your journey when using the return portion of an Off-Peak Return, nor are there any restrictions about when you can resume travel after breaking your journey with the return portion of an Off-Peak Return (other than those relating to the advertised final day of validity).



The 04:29 time restriction referred to in the reply from our Customer Relations team applies to the following:-



· Off-Peak Single;
· Off-Peak Return (outward portion); and
· Off-Peak Return (return portion, only following the last day of validity, i.e. one calendar month from outward journey)


It is certainly disappointing that you should have received a number of conflicting responses, as we have worked hard towards achieving greater consistency in our communications with customers, and fare simplification has been a key part of achieving this for the industry as a whole. However, I do acknowledge that it has sadly not been the case in this specific instance, and it is unacceptable that we are not getting this information right first time, every time.


There is an ongoing training and briefing process to improve and update the level of skill and knowledge amongst our people, as we do recognise just how vital accurate information is, and the impact it can have on our customers when this is not provided. Rest assured, your valuable feedback about your regrettable experience here has been duly noted, and will be used as part of our ongoing review of how we can make sure all our staff are fully aware of current and accurate ticketing information, as well as being fed back directly to individuals where possible.


In the meantime, I would like to sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to you, and also thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, so that we can look to make improvements.


I'm happy with their response.. Hopefully this clears up break of journey confusion once and for all..
 

34D

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nor are there any restrictions about when you can resume travel after breaking your journey with the return portion of an Off-Peak Return (other than those relating to the advertised final day of validity).
I'm not sure this bit is correct
 

John @ home

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Virgin Chief Executive's Office said:
nor are there any restrictions about when you can resume travel after breaking your journey with the return portion of an Off-Peak Return (other than those relating to the advertised final day of validity).
I'm not sure this bit is correct
I agree that the statement quoted is incorrect. Taking markbhaven's specific example of breaking the return leg of a Manchester - London Off-Peak Return at Stoke-on-Trent, validity code 2C applies, including
Validity code 2C said:
These restrictions apply Monday to Friday. By any train on other days.

Return Travel
You may travel on any train that is scheduled to depart London Euston before 04:30 and between 09:26 & 15:00 (inclusive) and at or after 18:45

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/pdfs/SVR_2C.pdf
If Virgin's Railcard concession is not being used, then the time restriction continues to apply when resuming from Stoke-on-Trent after a break of journey if the train used has come from London Euston.
 

Greenback

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Thanks for coming back and letting us know what they said in their response markbhaven.

I agree that there is an error in their response. I hope that they will be disappointed that they are still unable to give the correct information!

But it is further evidence that the system is so complicated, and simplification certainly hasn't helped the situation (as they seem to want to believe!), as to almost render it impossible to get it absolutely right, first time, every time. ;)
 

markbhaven

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To be fair, I think Virgin were referring to the assertion by their customer relations and others that I could not break my journey for more than 24 hours, more than once etc..
You're right they probably should point out that "off peak" rules regarding times of trains used (in and and out of Euston) still apply to any travel..

The good news is we finally have a categorical admission from Virgin chief execs office that off peak returns can have a break(s) of journey on a return leg. It can be as many times as you like and for as long as you like as long as the whole journey is completed by 04.29 the day after the ticket expires.

This is actually a major achievement as I discovered they were routinely advising customers they could break only once, for a matter of hours and that was it. A cynic would sugget this was to extract extra revenue from customers by depriving them of the full use of the ticket.

I intend to test virgin call centre to see if this information has been circulated as promised.

We should also be vigilent. It was clear in my conversations that TOC's would dearly love to get rid of break of journey altogether. They may try to introduce this by stealth or under the banner of "fare simplification"...
 
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