Facing prosecution for slip of the tongue

Fawkes Cat

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The excess fare both at marylebone is to the side of the gate line about 4 metres from gateline. Surely the fact that you approached the excess fare both and not went to the gateline,shows you intended to buy a ticket
But passengers are required to buy the ticket for the journey they are planning to make / have made. And since the OP started at Stoke Mandeville rather than Amersham...
 
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6Gman

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The excess fare both at marylebone is to the side of the gate line about 4 metres from gateline. Surely the fact that you approached the excess fare both and not went to the gateline,shows you intended to buy a ticket
The issue isn't an intention (or otherwise) to buy a ticket. The issue is stating the incorrect starting point for the journey made.
 

Tentx

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I just wanted to say thank you very much for all those who have taken the time to read and reply to this thread, I greatly appreciate it.

I am in the process of writing my version of events now, I haven't been able to keep it short though as I have a lot to say, and explanations to offer.

In case anyones curious I'll post an update if court action will follow or not.

Once again, thank you guys!
 

MikeWh

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I am in the process of writing my version of events now, I haven't been able to keep it short though as I have a lot to say, and explanations to offer.
You really are advised to keep explanations short and to the point. You may feel they are very important, but to the person reading the letter they really aren't. If the letter goes on too long they are likely to stop reading and ignore the rest.
 

najaB

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You really are advised to keep explanations short and to the point. You may feel they are very important, but to the person reading the letter they really aren't. If the letter goes on too long they are likely to stop reading and ignore the rest.
Seconded. If the letter can't fit on a single side of A4 then it's way too long.
 

some bloke

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The letter is saying an application may now be made, rather than that a summons will definitely follow.

You may get a better response when the file is passed back to Chiltern.

If you post your previous response here with identifying details removed, people on here may spot things that can be improved or explained. Saying the wrong station does look like what someone intending to avoid a fare would do, so it needs careful explanation.
 

Tentx

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My initial reply:

I would like to express my sincere apology to Chiltern Railways for the confusion surrounding my ticket for the journey between Stoke Mandeville and London Marylebone on 10/11/19. A valid ticket was not held because the ticket office at Stoke Mandeville was closed and the ticket machines were not working. My friends and I (5 of us in total) boarded the 12:20pm train from Stoke Mandeville with the intention of purchasing tickets from Stoke Mandeville to London Marylebone at London Marylebone.

Upon arriving at London Marylebone we walked towards the excess fare booth so that we could purchase our tickets. The Revenue Protection Officer (RPO) approached us regarding having no tickets. As I was travelling with a group I took control and led the discussion. I confirmed that we were travelling without tickets as we were unable to purchase them from the station we came from.

The RPO asked what station we came from and I mistakenly said Amersham and that we needed a group travel ticket. The RPO asked how I got through the barriers & that we wouldn’t be able to purchase a group travel ticket, confused at this question I said there were no barriers we were able to walk directly onto the platform as there were no guards. It was at this point I realised I said the wrong station name, there were no barriers at Stoke Mandeville. As soon as I recognised my mistake I immediately apologised and advised I said the wrong station name, we came from Stoke Mandeville and not Amersham.

It was at this point the RPO became aggressive and asserted that I was trying to fare evade. I tried to explain that it wasn’t my intention to fare evade, I simply made an honest and genuine mistake by saying the wrong station name and that as soon as I recognised this I corrected myself. I also advised that if I hadn’t of corrected myself during the conversation about platform barriers and the ticket transaction was processed, I would have made the RPO aware of my mistake after seeing that the printed ticket would have read Amersham - London Marylebone and not Stoke Mandeville - London Marylebone.

I dispute the claim that my intention was to fare evade as my friends and I walked directly to the excess fare booth after arriving at Marylebone. If my intention was to evade I would not have corrected myself after I realised I said Amersham and not Stoke Mandeville. I agree the company is right to be suspicious of intention to fare evade. In view of saying ‘Amersham’ I can assure it was not in any attempt to avoid a fare. I can only confirm during the conversation with the RPO my mind was on other matters, we were running late for an event and passed through Amersham and the station was on my mind as at one point I was considering moving and working there.

I’m unable to comment on why my friends did not correct me when I said Amersham, I believe it was because they weren’t paying attention to the conversation as I took lead. I also believe it was because as we were on the way to an event and they were focusing on that. Please find attached witness statements from my friends detailing their version of events. I do not understand why my friends’ details were not taken down by the RPO as none of us had tickets and we all intended to purchase them at Marylebone, we approached the excess fare booth as a group, not individually. This leads me to believe I have been singled out by the RPO.

I am extremely worried a conviction will result in the loss of my good name and could negatively affect future employment. I have a degree in Human Rights and throughout my career I have worked with vulnerable people, I have deep concern that I will not be able to continue my career should I receive a criminal conviction.

Once again I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. I am very keen to resolve the situation and kindly ask if you would accept a settlement of the outstanding fees plus any administration fees that have incurred as a result.
 

some bloke

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This seems your main defence, and I suggest it needs more if possible:

"passed through Amersham and the station was on my mind as at one point I was considering moving and working there."

Can you say more about why Amersham was in your mind at that time? Have you spent a lot of time there, or taken trains from there?

Is there a special relevance of the facts that your mind was on other matters and you were running late for an event?

Try for more like 250 words than 700. The main defence can be seen more easily if there is less around it. Going to the booth is not strong evidence against deliberately saying the wrong station, and they may think that correcting yourself isn't either.

It's good (hopefully) that your friends have made statements.
 
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Tentx

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This seems your main defence, and I suggest it needs more if possible:

"passed through Amersham and the station was on my mind as at one point I was considering moving and working there."

Can you say more about why Amersham was in your mind at that time?

Is there a special relevance of the facts that your mind was on other matters and you were running late for an event?

Try for more like 250 words than 700. The main defence can be seen more easily if there is less around it. Going to the booth is not strong evidence against deliberately saying the wrong station, and they may think that correcting yourself isn't either.

It's good (hopefully) that your friends have made statements.

My plan for the second response was to 1) dispute the claim that pre-purchase facilities were available, they weren't - ticket machines weren't working & the office was closed hence purchasing tickets at Marylebone. 2) as written by you write more about why I said Amersham. There really isn't more I can say than what has already been said. We passed through the station on the train and it got me thinking about the town! I had plans to work and live there :/

Is it worth consulting a solicitor in your opinion?
 

snail

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This seems your main defence, and I suggest it needs more if possible:
"passed through Amersham and the station was on my mind as at one point I was considering moving and working there."
Well having read the explanation I would say it needs less not more:
  • my mind was on other matters
  • I mistakenly asked for a ticket from Amersham
  • I only realised my mistake when challenged by the RPO
  • I sincerely regret my actions
  • I am prepared to pay any costs you have incurred if you will agree to settle the matter out of court
Leave out the friends, definitely leave out the comment that 'the RPO became agressive' [they will have heard this every time someone was challenged] and don't bother with the impact on career prospects [again, they will have heard it all before].

Others on here are much better qualified to comment than me but I see very little to defend here given the sequence of actions, it's time to say sorry and pay up in the hope the TOC agree to a settlement.
 

Tentx

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Well having read the explanation I would say it needs less not more:
  • my mind was on other matters
  • I mistakenly asked for a ticket from Amersham
  • I only realised my mistake when challenged by the RPO
  • I sincerely regret my actions
  • I am prepared to pay any costs you have incurred if you will agree to settle the matter out of court
Leave out the friends, definitely leave out the comment that 'the RPO became agressive' [they will have heard this every time someone was challenged] and don't bother with the impact on career prospects [again, they will have heard it all before].

Others on here are much better qualified to comment than me but I see very little to defend here given the sequence of actions, it's time to say sorry and pay up in the hope the TOC agree to a settlement.
Thank you for your response!

It's just really bothering me that none of my friends were spoken to/had their details taken. Am I allowed to question this? Should it be the case that I'm the only one involved?
 

Haywain

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My initial reply:

I would like to express my sincere apology to Chiltern Railways for the confusion surrounding my ticket for the journey between Stoke Mandeville and London Marylebone on 10/11/19. A valid ticket was not held because the ticket office at Stoke Mandeville was closed and the ticket machines were not working. My friends and I (5 of us in total) boarded the 12:20pm train from Stoke Mandeville with the intention of purchasing tickets from Stoke Mandeville to London Marylebone at London Marylebone.

Upon arriving at London Marylebone we walked towards the excess fare booth so that we could purchase our tickets. The Revenue Protection Officer (RPO) approached us regarding having no tickets. As I was travelling with a group I took control and led the discussion. I confirmed that we were travelling without tickets as we were unable to purchase them from the station we came from.

The RPO asked what station we came from and I mistakenly said Amersham and that we needed a group travel ticket. The RPO asked how I got through the barriers & that we wouldn’t be able to purchase a group travel ticket, confused at this question I said there were no barriers we were able to walk directly onto the platform as there were no guards. It was at this point I realised I said the wrong station name, there were no barriers at Stoke Mandeville. As soon as I recognised my mistake I immediately apologised and advised I said the wrong station name, we came from Stoke Mandeville and not Amersham.

It was at this point the RPO became aggressive and asserted that I was trying to fare evade. I tried to explain that it wasn’t my intention to fare evade, I simply made an honest and genuine mistake by saying the wrong station name and that as soon as I recognised this I corrected myself. I also advised that if I hadn’t of corrected myself during the conversation about platform barriers and the ticket transaction was processed, I would have made the RPO aware of my mistake after seeing that the printed ticket would have read Amersham - London Marylebone and not Stoke Mandeville - London Marylebone.

I dispute the claim that my intention was to fare evade as my friends and I walked directly to the excess fare booth after arriving at Marylebone. If my intention was to evade I would not have corrected myself after I realised I said Amersham and not Stoke Mandeville. I agree the company is right to be suspicious of intention to fare evade. In view of saying ‘Amersham’ I can assure it was not in any attempt to avoid a fare. I can only confirm during the conversation with the RPO my mind was on other matters, we were running late for an event and passed through Amersham and the station was on my mind as at one point I was considering moving and working there.

I’m unable to comment on why my friends did not correct me when I said Amersham, I believe it was because they weren’t paying attention to the conversation as I took lead. I also believe it was because as we were on the way to an event and they were focusing on that. Please find attached witness statements from my friends detailing their version of events. I do not understand why my friends’ details were not taken down by the RPO as none of us had tickets and we all intended to purchase them at Marylebone, we approached the excess fare booth as a group, not individually. This leads me to believe I have been singled out by the RPO.

I am extremely worried a conviction will result in the loss of my good name and could negatively affect future employment. I have a degree in Human Rights and throughout my career I have worked with vulnerable people, I have deep concern that I will not be able to continue my career should I receive a criminal conviction.

Once again I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. I am very keen to resolve the situation and kindly ask if you would accept a settlement of the outstanding fees plus any administration fees that have incurred as a result.
tl;dr which is probably what happened at TIL (even allowing for their reputation for ignoring the letters they receive).
Keep it short: did something stupid, apologise, ask to cover costs and pay fare.
 

Fawkes Cat

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It's just really bothering me that none of my friends were spoken to/had their details taken. Am I allowed to question this? Should it be the case that I'm the only one involved?
I think it is because of what you state here:

Upon arriving at London Marylebone we walked towards the excess fare booth so that we could purchase our tickets. The Revenue Protection Officer (RPO) approached us regarding having no tickets. As I was travelling with a group I took control and led the discussion.
Quite simply, you were the person doing the talking. This means that if anyone was misleading the railway, it was you. And since you were the one they were talking to, it was straightforward to get your details.

On the general issue of how you should respond, I agree with @snail : you need to be brief, and you need to recognise you are on very weak ground. The fact is that you said you were coming from Amersham, and only changed this to Stoke Mandeville when the inspector pointed out that this couldn't be true: the railway only has your assertion that you always meant to say Stoke. They cannot know what was going on in your head, and have to rely on what you said and did, not what you thought.

You need to admit that you misled the the inspector (i.e. you know you were in the wrong), you now know that this was a mistake and you need to pay more attention to making sure that you pay the right fare in future (i.e. you have learnt your lesson and you won't do it again) and you hope that the railway would be willing to offer a settlement that will cover the unpaid fare and the coats that they have incurred (i.e. the railway will not be out of pocket because of what you did).
 

Tentx

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Thank you all, I have taken into consideration everything that has been mentioned :)

I am definitely over thinking this and have now confused myself... This is going to sound SO stupid but as per the second letter that was sent to me, am I in trouble because we couldn't get tickets at Stoke Mandeville or because I said the wrong station name or both?

Also didn't mention this but my friend ended up buying our tickets with a separate officer for Stoke Mandeville - Marylebone.
 

Bertie the bus

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You are in trouble for short-faring, i.e. asking for a ticket from Amersham when you travelled from Stoke Mandeville.

Not being able to purchase tickets from Stoke Mandeville is of no relevance as you didn't ask for a ticket from there. If you had they would have probably just sold you one and you wouldn't be in trouble at all.
 

some bloke

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Whether you consult a solicitor depends on personal factors such as your priorities and funds. It may be helpful as your story might be seen as unlikely in court if it gets that far.
yorkie said:
I recommend Penman Sedgwick based purely on the experience of other forum members. I have no connection with this company and have not met them personally.
https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...r-sitting-in-first-class.197086/#post-4345856

On the machines not working and office closed - you might as well reiterate this, in case a misconception adds to the impression you were up to no good, and in case they go for a byelaw prosecution instead.
 

some bloke

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We passed through the station on the train and it got me thinking about the town!
If you say something like "I had been musing about x and y (specifics) in Amersham" it might be a bit more credible. Imagine difficult questioning in court and see if there's anything you can say that counters the suspicion (and is less likely to be something a person might simply make up). But you have to recognise the extra difficulty that you were claiming all of you, not just yourself, had come from Amersham.
 

Fawkes Cat

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Keep it short. Keep it factual. Keep it apologetic.

As a matter of fact, you asked for a short fare. That's an offence. You have put forward an excuse, but that excuse relies on people accepting your explanation of what was in your head. 'Amersham' and 'Stoke Mandeville' don't sound remotely similar, so a literal slip of the tongue is not a credible explanation. And as far as I can see, you haven't yet said why you were thinking about Amersham rather than Stoke. Unless you have a good reason for that, then thinking about Amersham isn't a credible explanation either. Put bluntly, if you are taken to court, then on the facts you will lose.

So you have no hope of making the whole thing go away. What you should be aiming for at this point is for the best available settlement - and to get that, you need TIL and the railway to read your letter. They are more likely to do that if the letter is short. And the letter needs to convince them that you won't do it again. So the letter needs to apologize and confirm that you now know that it's important for a customer to pay the right fare at the right time. And the letter needs to confirm that the railway will not have lost money by defending their rights, so you need to offer to settle out of court.

I'm sorry if this (and my previous postings) sound harsh. But you need to think about how TIL and the railway will see things, and how you can get them to agree to the outcome that you want.
 

Tentx

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Keep it short. Keep it factual. Keep it apologetic.

As a matter of fact, you asked for a short fare. That's an offence. You have put forward an excuse, but that excuse relies on people accepting your explanation of what was in your head. 'Amersham' and 'Stoke Mandeville' don't sound remotely similar, so a literal slip of the tongue is not a credible explanation. And as far as I can see, you haven't yet said why you were thinking about Amersham rather than Stoke. Unless you have a good reason for that, then thinking about Amersham isn't a credible explanation either. Put bluntly, if you are taken to court, then on the facts you will lose.

So you have no hope of making the whole thing go away. What you should be aiming for at this point is for the best available settlement - and to get that, you need TIL and the railway to read your letter. They are more likely to do that if the letter is short. And the letter needs to convince them that you won't do it again. So the letter needs to apologize and confirm that you now know that it's important for a customer to pay the right fare at the right time. And the letter needs to confirm that the railway will not have lost money by defending their rights, so you need to offer to settle out of court.

I'm sorry if this (and my previous postings) sound harsh. But you need to think about how TIL and the railway will see things, and how you can get them to agree to the outcome that you want.
It doesn't sound harsh at all, I need to hear it and prepare myself for literally the worst. I've mentioned why I said Amersham, it's because I was considering moving and living there at one point! I won't be able to say more about it because then it would be lying
 

Tentx

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Here is what I have drafted so far if I may have some thoughts/improvements? I've tried keeping it as short as possible:

I would like to express my sincere apology to Chiltern Railways for the confusion surrounding my ticket for the journey between Stoke Mandeville and London Marylebone on 10/11/19.

I understand it is always the traveller’s responsibility to pay the correct fare due and to obtain a valid ticket before boarding any train where pre-purchase facilities are available. However, a valid ticket was not held because the ticket office at Stoke Mandeville was closed and the ticket machines were not working, this situation is akin to section 18 (3) of the National Railway Byelaw. My friends and I (5 of us in total) thus boarded the 12:20pm train from Stoke Mandeville with the intention of purchasing tickets from Stoke Mandeville to London Marylebone at London Marylebone as an officer was not available on the train.

As mentioned in previous correspondence upon arriving at London Marylebone we walked towards the excess fare booth so that we could purchase our tickets. The Revenue Protection Officer (RPO) approached us, I confirmed that we were travelling without tickets as we were unable to purchase them from the station we came from. I mistakenly advised we needed a group travel ticket from Amersham - London Marylebone. After questions regarding the station from the RPO I realised I said the wrong station name and immediately apologised & corrected myself, I advised I said the wrong station name and we came from Stoke Mandeville not Amersham. No transaction was processed at this time.

I tried to explain I made an honest & genuine mistake and my intention wasn’t to fare evade. As soon as I recognised my mistake I corrected myself. I advised that if I hadn’t of corrected myself during the conversation and the ticket transaction was processed, I would have made the RPO aware of my mistake after seeing that the printed ticket would have read Amersham - London Marylebone and not Stoke Mandeville - London Marylebone.

I did not intend to short fare. If this was my intention I would not have corrected myself after I realised I said the wrong station name. I agree the company is right to be suspicious of intention to short fare. In view of saying ‘Amersham’ I can assure it was not in any attempt to avoid a fare. During the conversation with the RPO my mind was on other matters, we were running late for an event and passed through Amersham and the station has frequently been on my mind as at one point I was considering moving and working there and I always pass the station when travelling to London.

Once again I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. I regret making the mistake of saying the wrong station name. I have learned an important lesson in that when speaking I should pay full attention and be careful of what I say as a small mishap may prove detrimental. I am very keen to resolve the situation and kindly ask if you would accept a settlement out of court to pay any costs/administration fees incurred.
 

snail

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Here is what I have drafted so far if I may have some thoughts/improvements? I've tried keeping it as short as possible:
Still far too long. As @Fawkes Cat said, short, factual and apologetic is the tone you need. Stick to what happened not your (over) thinking of why it happened or speculation on what you would have done if issued a ticket from Amersham. I've highlighted the parts I think you should keep.

I would like to express my sincere apology to Chiltern Railways for the confusion surrounding my ticket for the journey between Stoke Mandeville and London Marylebone on 10/11/19.

I understand it is always the traveller’s responsibility to pay the correct fare due and to obtain a valid ticket before boarding any train where pre-purchase facilities are available. However, a valid ticket was not held because the ticket office at Stoke Mandeville was closed and the ticket machines were not working
, this situation is akin to section 18 (3) of the National Railway Byelaw. My friends and I (5 of us in total) thus boarded the 12:20pm train from Stoke Mandeville with the intention of purchasing tickets from Stoke Mandeville to London Marylebone at London Marylebone as an officer was not available on the train.

As mentioned in previous correspondence upon arriving at London Marylebone we walked towards the excess fare booth so that we could purchase our tickets. The Revenue Protection Officer (RPO) approached us, I confirmed that we were travelling without tickets as we were unable to purchase them from the station we came from. I mistakenly advised we needed a group travel ticket from Amersham - London Marylebone. After questions regarding the station from the RPO I realised I said the wrong station name and immediately apologised &[and] corrected myself, I advised I said the wrong station name and we came from Stoke Mandeville not Amersham. No transaction was processed at this time.

I tried to explain I made an honest & genuine mistake and my intention wasn’t to fare evade. As soon as I recognised my mistake I corrected myself. I advised that if I hadn’t of corrected myself during the conversation and the ticket transaction was processed, I would have made the RPO aware of my mistake after seeing that the printed ticket would have read Amersham - London Marylebone and not Stoke Mandeville - London Marylebone.

I did not intend to short fare. If this was my intention I would not have corrected myself after I realised I said the wrong station name. I agree the company is right to be suspicious of intention to short fare. In view of saying ‘Amersham’ I can assure it was not in any attempt to avoid a fare. During the conversation with the RPO my mind was on other matters, we were running late for an event and passed through Amersham and the station has frequently been on my mind as at one point I was considering moving and working there and I always pass the station when travelling to London.

Once again I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. I regret making the mistake of saying the wrong station name. I have learned an important lesson in that when speaking I should pay full attention and be careful of what I say as a small mishap may prove detrimental. I am very keen to resolve the situation and kindly ask if you would accept a settlement out of court to pay [the fare plus] any costs/administration fees incurred.
 

Greenboy

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Could I suggest that you don't use the phrase "minced my words" or "slip of the tongue." Stoke Mandeville and Amersham sound nothing like the same.
Surely that's irrelevant? People do inevitably get stations mixed up and in the circumstances surely the OP should have the benefit of the doubt? If there had been facilities to buy tickets at Stoke Mandeville this situation wouldn't have arisen.
 

Brissle Girl

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Surely that's irrelevant? People do inevitably get stations mixed up and in the circumstances surely the OP should have the benefit of the doubt? If there had been facilities to buy tickets at Stoke Mandeville this situation wouldn't have arisen.
Getting the station where you boarded mixed up with another is not something most people would do on a journey such as was taken. And whether or not ticket facilities exist at Stoke Mandeville is completely irrelevant to the OP’s situation and how it is now addressed with the authorities.
 

Greenboy

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Getting the station where you boarded mixed up with another is not something most people would do on a journey such as was taken. And whether or not ticket facilities exist at Stoke Mandeville is completely irrelevant to the OP’s situation and how it is now addressed with the authorities.
It easily done, I've even staff say "change at X......err no I mean Y", Chiltern were just as negligent not having ticket facilities at SM.
 
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Kilopylae

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Snail's advice is good, though I would also suggest retaining the reference to having planned to live and work in Amersham and the fact that you always pass it on the way into London.
 

some bloke

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Snail's advice is good, though I would also suggest retaining the reference to having planned to live and work in Amersham and the fact that you always pass it on the way into London.
Agreed, though you could leave out the "always pass it" part, which might weaken the overall impression. Even saying

"I had it in mind when I was asked, and I am somewhat baffled myself as to why, but I assure you it is the truth"

may be better than just saying it was a mistake. The planning and working part is specific to Amersham, and seems worth saying. This may be more suitable than "always pass it":
We passed through the station on the train and it got me thinking about the town!
 
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6Gman

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Surely that's irrelevant? People do inevitably get stations mixed up and in the circumstances surely the OP should have the benefit of the doubt? If there had been facilities to buy tickets at Stoke Mandeville this situation wouldn't have arisen.
But, as someone noted on another thread, when people get stations mixed up it always seems to involve a closer station / one with a cheaper fare.

If the train operators are to give "the benefit of the doubt" isn't that giving open season to short-faring?
 

Bertie the bus

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Snail's advice is good, though I would also suggest retaining the reference to having planned to live and work in Amersham and the fact that you always pass it on the way into London.
I disagree. The suggestion that someone would just blurt out the name of a town they once considered working in is in no way believable. It just comes across as a very poor excuse and isn’t going to help convince the TOC they might not accidentally blurt out some other random town where the fare is cheaper in the future.
 

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