Permitted routes

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RJ

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My extensive study into anomalies and loopholes in the fares system continues...

If a route is shown as valid on all booking websites - to include National Rail and all those powered by Thetrainline and WebTiS, but the National Routeing Guide doesn't appear to allow it, is it a permitted route? Wouldn't like to post any specific examples on here as apparently, it's bad practice.

Not talking about blatant errors whereby it's clear that there's something wrong BTW.

I'll make up an example. Say Forest Hill to Norbury. The booking websites say that it's valid via East Croydon. But assume that the NRG infers that it's only valid via Crystal Palace/West Norwood. Which is correct?
 
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transportphoto

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If you are sold a ticket on-line with a set itinerary you have been sold a valid ticket for that itinerary - you have entered into a contract for that journey.

I don't know how that would apply to Ticket Office scenarios.

TP
 

calc7

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It pays to shop around! Get seat reservations and take a print out of the itinerary where possible.
 

calc7

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I'd ask the ticket office to print the itinerary.

I see what you're getting at, but without anything on paper to justify the route it's going to boil down to one of those "the man in the ticket office said it was ok" situations.


Edit: I assume this is because you're eligible for a PRIV discount. Then a print-out of the itinerary from the website offered for the full-price ticket would be my advice.
 

All Line Rover

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I'd ask the ticket office to print the itinerary.

I see what you're getting at, but without anything on paper to justify the route it's going to boil down to one of those "the man in the ticket office said it was ok" situations.
Although it is worth remembering that most guards will accept any reasonable route. Few, if any, know what the Routeing Guide says.
 

calc7

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Although it is worth remembering that most guards will accept any reasonable route. Few, if any, know what the Routeing Guide says.
Agreed, but we're probably on about things worse than Lancaster to Manchester via Crewe here, and it's best to be prepared.
 

exile

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I think, strictly speaking, itineraries shown when you buy online don't have any official status. You buy the tickets subject to conditions - which include whether a particular route is valid. However I believe on train staff are unlikely to challenge a ticket plus printed itinerary. How many of them have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the routeing guide?
 

All Line Rover

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I find it amusing that you think it is a possibility that not a single guard on the UK rail network has knowledge of the routeing guide!
Some have probably heard of it, but I'd like to see a guard who knows the permitted routes for the majority of tickets on the services he/she operates. :)
 

RJ

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National Rail's take on this;

Permitted Routes

The ticket that you have selected may require you to travel via a specific route. Our Journey Planner will have already taken this into account with the selection that you have made and will only have shown tickets that are valid for the selected trains. If you wish to travel via a specific route you can use the advanced options on the Journey Planner to select ‘travel via', ‘avoid', ‘include interchange' or ‘exclude interchange' so that the route and the required ticket(s) will be recalculated for you.
All tickets are valid via any reasonable route unless specifically stated on the ticket.
But how much water does this hold?
 

MarkyMarkD

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It's interesting that they use the old "reasonable route" wording under the heading of "permitted routes" and after referring to the Routeing Guide.

There is definitely the implication that the journey planner is infallible and that it will automatically deal with anything the Routeing Guide requires ... even though it is reasonably well-known that no computer-based system seems to be entirely capable of implementing the Routeing Guide (not least because the Routeing Guide is itself not perfectly consistent).
 

DaveNewcastle

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If you are hoping that there is a definitive answer to this question (and it has certainly exercised a number of minds), then regrettably you will be disappointed.
Quotes from industry sources such as the final sentence of your extract from National Rail's website "All tickets are valid via any reasonable route unless specifically stated on the ticket." appear to offer some clarity and comfort, but of course by leaving "reasonable route" undefined, we still struggle to learn any answer from it.

The very reason why this question is so interesting is that every day, passengers in the UK are travelling without having consulted any definitive authority, and staff are inspecting tickets without having consulted any definitive authority, and yet only occasionally come across a dispute, and even more rarely, a dispute which requires a Legal Judgement which is binding on future travel.

It is very tempting to rely, as transportphoto and cacl7 suggest, on a printed itinery which removes some possibility of doubt about the authenticity of the ticket coupons, and that is good pragmatic advice for any passenger with uncertainty about the intended validity of a route. But that doesn't actually help us in determining the validity of the route. In fact, the documentation serves a different purpose, it demonstrates that the contracted itinery for that one journey had been issued by the industry-approved software and/or industry-employed ticket seller (and therefore should be honoured as a stand-alone contract); but both of those methods of issuing tickets make errors and both can be inconsistent, as we have seen.
That one-off printed itinery simply sidesteps the question of validity of the route for that, and for subsequent, journeys.

The Routing Guide and its instructions for its use go some way to establishing a procedure for answering the question, but as we've already seen, it contains ambiguities (e.g. direct trains on circular routes), incomprehensible statements and internal contradictions. The Easements too have dubious value (especially the Negative Easements which I commented on recently), particularly as they are not presented to the passenger in the same way as the more obvious and binding Terms. Its hard to see how the Guide can be definitive.

There has even been persuasive discussion here and elsewhere to suggest that some of the Conditions (obscure ones or otherwise) have been introduced without the requisite prior consultation which, if true, suggests that they may be unenforceable, even if widely known and accepted in regular custom and practice. But even if that is true, it doesn't clarify the status of those changes to the permitted and available routes during the time between their introduction and any future challenge to their propriety.

There's a popular view that the general effect of Consumer Legislation in dealing with unclear Contracts may help, but that is both unlikely (as there is no transfer of ownership in Rail travel) and no Legal Judgements from Consumer Legislation to refer to as relevant authorities. It's also often suggested that a Court would clearly draw one conclusion or other from a dispute over routing, but although there have been Prosecutions following off-route travel, none of those Judgements have, to my knowledge, given us any Precedent that assists us. No rational person makes decisions about the validity of an unclear Contract based on what they think a Court might in the future decide.

I expect that there are many posters on here who would like to provide helpful advice in response to your simple question, including myself, but I regret that there is not a simple and comprehensive answer, and I hope some of my reply helps to explain why my own unsatisfactory answer may be as good as it gets:
"Is it a permitted route?"
I don't know.
 
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142094

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I think, strictly speaking, itineraries shown when you buy online don't have any official status. You buy the tickets subject to conditions - which include whether a particular route is valid. However I believe on train staff are unlikely to challenge a ticket plus printed itinerary. How many of them have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the routeing guide?
It would be very difficult for a TOC to refuse travel where a person has bought online and has the printed itinery as well (although mainly for advance tickets).
 

calc7

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It would be very difficult for a TOC to refuse travel where a person has bought online and has the printed itinery as well (although mainly for advance tickets).
You say that (and indeed so did I!) but I've had two sticky situations recently with tickets I bought and obtained an itinerary and reservations for.
 

142094

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You say that (and indeed so did I!) but I've had two sticky situations recently with tickets I bought and obtained an itinerary and reservations for.
Were those advances or not? Advances do not follow the same routeing guide rules as other tickets e.g. I once travelled Leeds - Doncaster - York - Newcastle on an advance with no problems.
 

MarkyMarkD

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It would be very difficult for a TOC to refuse travel where a person has bought online and has the printed itinery as well (although mainly for advance tickets).
But it is quite hard to successfully obtain an online itinerary for some of the more interesting routes which are permitted under the Routeing Guide, both because the websites default to showing the quickest routes and because they do not allow sufficient "via" and "avoid" options to cover every possible scenario.
 

DaveNewcastle

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It would be very difficult for a TOC to refuse travel where a person has bought online and has the printed itinery as well . . . .
An industry body recently sought legal advice on this question.
Clearly, I cannot comment on the advice given.

Suffice to say that the position that the industry body is now in, appears no different from the position it would be in if it had, instead, read my long post above.
 

142094

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Although I said it would be very difficult, I'm not saying it is impossible. We'd need a volunteer to see what happens to them.
 

calc7

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Were those advances or not? Advances do not follow the same routeing guide rules as other tickets e.g. I once travelled Leeds - Doncaster - York - Newcastle on an advance with no problems.
They were both walk-up tickets. I followed the reservations and itineraries to the letter. Details available by PM.
 

RJ

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If you are hoping that there is a definitive answer to this question (and it has certainly exercised a number of minds), then regrettably you will be disappointed.
Quotes from industry sources such as the final sentence of your extract from National Rail's website "All tickets are valid via any reasonable route unless specifically stated on the ticket." appear to offer some clarity and comfort, but of course by leaving "reasonable route" undefined, we still struggle to learn any answer from it.

The very reason why this question is so interesting is that every day, passengers in the UK are travelling without having consulted any definitive authority, and staff are inspecting tickets without having consulted any definitive authority, and yet only occasionally come across a dispute, and even more rarely, a dispute which requires a Legal Judgement which is binding on future travel.

It is very tempting to rely, as transportphoto and cacl7 suggest, on a printed itinery which removes some possibility of doubt about the authenticity of the ticket coupons, and that is good pragmatic advice for any passenger with uncertainty about the intended validity of a route. But that doesn't actually help us in determining the validity of the route. In fact, the documentation serves a different purpose, it demonstrates that the contracted itinery for that one journey had been issued by the industry-approved software and/or industry-employed ticket seller (and therefore should be honoured as a stand-alone contract); but both of those methods of issuing tickets make errors and both can be inconsistent, as we have seen.
That one-off printed itinery simply sidesteps the question of validity of the route for that, and for subsequent, journeys.

The Routing Guide and its instructions for its use go some way to establishing a procedure for answering the question, but as we've already seen, it contains ambiguities (e.g. direct trains on circular routes), incomprehensible statements and internal contradictions. The Easements too have dubious value (especially the Negative Easements which I commented on recently), particularly as they are not presented to the passenger in the same way as the more obvious and binding Terms. Its hard to see how the Guide can be definitive.

There has even been persuasive discussion here and elsewhere to suggest that some of the Conditions (obscure ones or otherwise) have been introduced without the requisite prior consultation which, if true, suggests that they may be unenforceable, even if widely known and accepted in regular custom and practice. But even if that is true, it doesn't clarify the status of those changes to the permitted and available routes during the time between their introduction and any future challenge to their propriety.

There's a popular view that the general effect of Consumer Legislation in dealing with unclear Contracts may help, but that is both unlikely (as there is no transfer of ownership in Rail travel) and no Legal Judgements from Consumer Legislation to refer to as relevant authorities. It's also often suggested that a Court would clearly draw one conclusion or other from a dispute over routing, but although there have been Prosecutions following off-route travel, none of those Judgements have, to my knowledge, given us any Precedent that assists us. No rational person makes decisions about the validity of an unclear Contract based on what they think a Court might in the future decide.

I expect that there are many posters on here who would like to provide helpful advice in response to your simple question, including myself, but I regret that there is not a simple and comprehensive answer, and I hope some of my reply helps to explain why my own unsatisfactory answer may be as good as it gets:
"Is it a permitted route?"
I don't know.
Thanks, interesting post. I just realised I had a blonde moment - I didn't read the Routeing Guide properly when posting this thread with the example in mind. Some "backwards" analysis etc. has made me realise why the journey planner allows the route.

Carry on :p
 

34D

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Thanks, interesting post. I just realised I had a blonde moment - I didn't read the Routeing Guide properly when posting this thread with the example in mind. Some "backwards" analysis etc. has made me realise why the journey planner allows the route.

Carry on :p
Backwards would imply one way, which would very possibly imply stockport to stalybridge going north and via piccadilly going south?
 

clagmonster

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I think, strictly speaking, itineraries shown when you buy online don't have any official status. You buy the tickets subject to conditions - which include whether a particular route is valid. However I believe on train staff are unlikely to challenge a ticket plus printed itinerary. How many of them have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the routeing guide?
Condition 13 says:
"13. The route you are entitled to take
(a) You may travel between the stations shown on the ticket you hold in:
...
(iii) trains which take the routes shown in the National Routeing Guide
(details as to how you can obtain this information will be available
when you buy your ticket)."
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/system/galleries/download/misc/NRCOC.pdf

When buying tickets over the internet, no link to the NRG is provided, the only information that resembles how to obtain permitted routes is the journey planner itself. Therefore, for that reason, I would say that an internet booking confirmation or travel itinerary from the website with which you paid for travel should be binding.

Similarly, I think that an itinerary from the booking office at which you paid for travel should be binding under Condition 13.
 

exile

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I'm sure Kafka is alive and well! You're bound by conditions in documents which (a) you may not know about (b) even industry experts can't fully understand (c) you can be guilty of a strict liability offence if you don't follow them and find that your ticket is invalid.
 

MarkyMarkD

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There is absolutely no way that the complexities of the Routeing Guide are reasonable terms in a consumer contract, and I cannot see any rational court decision saying "you bought tickets from a legitimate, licensed, website which provided you with the tickets for the journey, a detailed itinerary, and reservations for any reservable portions of that itinerary, but because the website was defectively built, your tickets are invalid and you are guilty of a criminal offence."

Even with the lower burden of evidence required for a civil claim (balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt) I can't see a case being won.

Patently absurd routes are not an exception to this IMHO - with other forms of travel, particularly air, longer and more complex routes are often cheaper than direct and quicker routes, so saying that a customer ought to have realised that a route was 'wrong' isn't really justifiable.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I should have said, too, that even on National Rail, longer and slower routes are often cheaper than faster/shorter ones.
 

Solent&Wessex

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There is just as much ambiguity when a ticket office or anyone else provides an itinerary.

For example, when doing a timetable search on Avantix Mobile machine (as used by Guards and gateline staff at stations, and indeed some smaller booking offices) it ALWAYS give the quickest journey option irrespective of whether that is permitted or not. It also makes no correlation between the fare paid and particular routeing associated with that ticket - so it is quite easy to sell a ticket from A to C marked as "Route Via B", whilst providing a timetable printout for a journey which goes no where near B.

The same can happen at ticket offices, but not so easily, and most errors are down to staff errors or lack of knowledge. For example, I did have once a passenger on my train with a ticket from Liverpool to Shipley Route Via Halifax, but with a timetable printout for a journey that went no where near Halifax. The ticket was sold and the printout provided by the same clerk on the same window at the same ticket office at the same time - i.e. the same transaction. It was only a single ticket, yet the timetable printout showed the details of the ticket at the top which was required for the journey being carried out - the clerk hadn't actually sold the ticket that was shown as valid, but had sold something different.

Does this mean that tickets on invalid routes are valid because someone somewhere had said it was? Well some would say yes, and some would say no.

Like other correspondents, I am afraid that routeing is a very complicated issue and there is no definitive answer.
 

transmanche

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There's a popular view that the general effect of Consumer Legislation in dealing with unclear Contracts may help, but that is both unlikely (as there is no transfer of ownership in Rail travel)
A consumer contract may be a for the supply of goods (transfer of ownership) or for the supply of services - rail travel falling into the latter category.

Schedule 2 of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 has an "indicative and non-exhaustive list of terms which may be regarded as unfair', including two which seem particularly relevant;

1(i) irrevocably binding the consumer to terms with which he had no real opportunity of becoming acquainted before the conclusion of the contract;

1(m) giving the seller or supplier the right to determine whether the goods or services supplied are in conformity with the contract, or giving him the exclusive right to interpret any term of the contract;​

As well as the OFT and Consumers' Association, the ORR is listed as a 'qualifying body' to investigate complaints under the regulations. So there is a clear indication that these consumer protection regulations are intended to cover railway contracts.
 

MarkyMarkD

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Does this mean that tickets on invalid routes are valid because someone somewhere had said it was? Well some would say yes, and some would say no.

Like other correspondents, I am afraid that routeing is a very complicated issue and there is no definitive answer.
Well, in your example, definitely yes, because the customer was sold the ticket by a member of staff of an ATOC member, in good faith believing it was valid for the itinerary shown. As has previously been mentioned, whilst tickets are sold subject to NRCOC, these are not made readily available and do not therefore form an effective part of the contract made; even if NRCOC was made available, the statements by the member of staff over-ride standard conditions in the event of any inconsistency. ** It's worth emphasising that there is case law that shows the precedence of specific statements over standard contract wording (Couchman v Hill if anyone is interested!). **

Consumers in the same situation in any other supplier/consumer situation would definitely not be prosecuted for the equivalent of fraud/theft.

And, by extension, if a consumer is sold a ticket by an online ATOC certified website, and relies on the itinerary provided, it is ludicrous that there should ever be any attempt by an ATOC member to pursue the customer for travelling without a valid ticket.

The correct resolution for any such situation is to address the failings by the retailer of the ticket, not to prosecute the customer.
 
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