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'Reasonable route' during East Croydon / Redhill blockade

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Skimpot flyer

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A friend needs to travel between St Albans and Gatwick Airport on 31 December, to pick up a family member (a child, his grandson) who is arriving on a flight that lands at around 2pm. On the return journey, they will have lots of luggage and are anxious to avoid going via any route that involves the tube. Normally, I'd advise them to travel on the direct Thameslink service.

As many are doubtless aware, there will be no direct train-only-mode service on that day, as there is instead a bus to take them to East Grinstead, where they would have to get a train to East Croydon, then change again for a Thameslink service. So, it's bus/train/train, potentially carrying suitcases up and down flights of stairs... and the itinerary suggested by National Rail Enquiries suggests a total journey time of 2h15m

However, I looked on NRE at the possibility of travelling from Gatwick to Sutton (Surrey) and thence from Sutton to St Albans on a direct Thameslink train. I'd never normally suggest such a detour, but, as the itinerary for that journey suggests a total journey time of 2h27m, it would only be 12 minutes longer than going via East Grinstead. The big advantage being only one change is required, from one train to another, AND better still, remaining on the same platform to do so !!

However, as you can see, although NRE gives an itinarary, it does not display a price. Does that mean, therefore, that this is not considered a 'reasonable route' (even given the blockade at Redhill), and so it will be impossible to buy a ticket for it ?

Obviously, my friend needs a return ticket for himself, and the price is shown as £25.50. If this 'any permitted' ticket is NOT valid via Sutton, can anyone suggest a combination of tickets that would

a) be valid, and
b) come in at a similar price level ?

Any advice much appreciated
Gatwick to St Albans with change at Sutton.jpg

Gatwick to St Albans with bus replacement.jpg
 
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Skimpot flyer

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My friend is a VERY infrequent rail traveller, and would not be confident / comfortable in the scenario where a ticket inspector looks at the ticket and challenges the validity. What would be the worst outcome in that scenario ?
UPDATE: After doing a little quick research, I see he could buy a St Albans - Sutton off-peak return (£14.80) plus a Sutton - Gatwick return (£11.80) for a total outlay of £26.60, with no arguments over validity

It would be nice to have a definitive answer on whether the £25.50 ticket would be accepted. I'd give Southern a ring, but some posters on here seem to indicate that that may not give me the definitive answer I need !

I just realised that with my Gold Card, I could buy him a Network Railcard and they could travel together for a total of £18.85 (although the outward portion of the Child Return would not be used), instead of £27.50

Thus giving them a year's Network Railcard for, in effect, a cost of only £1.35 !!!
 
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319321

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I think the answer is that it would not be valid, but the guard / RPI would have to be a mean jobsworth to impose any penalty. There is absolutely nothing to say that 'other reasonable routes will be accepted' in the engineering works announcement, only that journeys will take 60m longer and involve using a bus service.

I would actually contact Thameslink Customer Services and ask them if they would be willing to accept to accept the ticket as I think this is a reasonable alternative route, it's just not one that's been approved.

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
OK, I'm going to post a new reply.

Southern are operating a service to replace the Gatwick Express service which also appears to be valid for other people wanting to travel to or from Gatwick Airport which runs via Horsham and takes 90m as opposed to 30m. This replacement service stops at Sutton (Surrey) before going on to London Victoria. I can't see a reasonable ticket inspector not accepting a Gatwick Airport - St Albans City ANY PERMITTED ticket on this service.

Similarly, trains to St Albans City are still running via Sutton (Surrey). I can't see a reasonable ticket inspector refusing to accept a Gatwick Airport - St Albans City ANY PERMITTED ticket on this service either. The National Rail Journey Planner will give itineries for a journey changing at Dorking (involving a walk between stations) going via Sutton (Surrey), but with multiple tickets.

I think an easement is needed:
"This easement allow customers travelling from Gatwick Airport to London and beyond to travel via Horsham. This easement applies in both directions."

However, as things stand it is not a valid routing. I think it should be and this could be the result of an oversight on the part of a TOC.
------------------------
I've just tested my theory using a local station. I've tested it using a journey Hockley - Gatwick Airport today, which allowed me to use the ticket to go to London, use the tube, then get the Gatwick Express (the genuine one) from Victoria to Gatwick Airport.

I've then tested the same journey on 31 December, and the only option it gives me is using the bus service from East Grinstead. If I try and set the journey planner to use the replacement rail service via Horsham, it will sell me two tickets costing more than £10 more.

This is definitely an oversight, as without an easement only people going to Gatwick Airport joining the service at a station it calls at will have valid tickets.
 
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Skimpot flyer

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Thank you so much for your time, 319321.

I bet if I play safe and and advise him to buy a combination of St Albans - Sutton and then Sutton - Gatwick tickets, they'll travel on the day and encounter no ticket inspector at all, and have paid far more than they would have needed to :roll:

I'm dubious that even if I can get a verbal 'yeah, that's fine' from a Thameslink person on the phone that it'll cut any ice with an RPI, any more than a 'the bloke at the barrier said it'd be ok' would, in different circumstances ...:lol:
 

Stats

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Thameslink website says that Thameslink tickets will be valid on the alternative routes. I don't know if that means only via East Grinstead, or if it includes via Horsham as well. I'll leave it to those with more expertise in ticketing matters to advise.

This requires a revised service across the network during this time which includes:

  • Southbound Thameslink services will terminate at East Croydon
  • No Gatwick Express service
  • Southern services from London running to East Croydon or East Grinstead with connecting rail replacement buses
  • There will also be alternative Southern train services to Gatwick Airport via Horsham from Victoria.
Thameslink journey times will be extended by over 60 minutes and customers going to or from Gatwick Airport and stations further south are advised to travel via East Grinstead which will be linked with Three Bridges and Gatwick Airport by bus. Thameslink tickets will be valid on these alternative routes.
http://www.thameslinkrailway.com/your-journey/engineering/christmas/
 
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James Wake

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That is not very clear on Thameslink's website at all. I personally think that is a perfect route to have the minimum changes, no tube and easy same platform change at Sutton to get the train going straight up to St Albans, not round the loop.
 

Skimpot flyer

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UPDATE: I tweeted Thameslink today, and they say going via Sutton / Horsham is ok...
No reply as yet to my question about showing the tweet to any over-zealous RPI's though ...
 

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319321

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Surprise, surprise - this appeared in the routing guide yesterday:
Routing Guide Easement said:
700604: During engineering works between the 27 December 2015 and 03 January 2016, affecting routes from London to Gatwick Airport; this map easement will allow journey planners to show journeys via Horsham, Dorking, Leatherhead, Sutton (Surrey) and Wimbledon. This easement applies in both directions.*
I have checked using the nationalrail.co.uk journey planner and it now allows the journey you specify with the ticket you specify. :)
 

Phil.

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Oh for those inefficient B.R. days when, following a line blockage on the direct route Gatwick Expresses could and would be sent to Horsham (reverse) and thence to Victoria. That was when the express drivers were simply drawn from the Victoria pool and had route knowledge. With so much prior knowledge and warning it could have been done this time.
 

Stats

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The Gatwick Expresses are going via Horsham - not sure what your point is?

Agree not sure what his point is, but the Gatwick Victoria services operating via Horsham are Southern services. There are no Gatwick Express services during the blockade.
 

button_boxer

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Agree not sure what his point is, but the Gatwick Victoria services operating via Horsham are Southern services. There are no Gatwick Express services during the blockade.

Cue the usual round and round arguments re Southern/Thameslink/Gatwick Express/GTR/whatever-they-are-called-this-week...
 

Mike395

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Interesting on a Bedford-Brighton search using NRE I get an itinerary northbound via Horsham on only one ticket, but still have to buy multiple tickets southbound.
 

NSEFAN

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Stats said:
Agree not sure what his point is, but the Gatwick Victoria services operating via Horsham are Southern services. There are no Gatwick Express services during the blockade.
Would there even be capacity to run all the GatEx service amongst the regular service and planned diversions?
 

Stats

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Would there even be capacity to run all the GatEx service amongst the regular service and planned diversions?

Southern's regular service is replaced by a rail replacement bus so the Gatwick diversion can run, so the answer is probably no.
 

yorkie

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The operator, GTR, is providing a service from Gatwick to London, but it would be ludicrous for that service not to call at intermediate stations. The operator is GTR, and it really doesn't matter what route brand they use.

Obviously a ticket from Gatwick to London would be valid on it, regardless of route, due to the through trains rule.

A ticket from Gatwick to beyond London (such as St Albans) would also valid. The easement is useful as it means the journeys show up in booking engines, but the journeys were still valid regardless of the easement (see 3.11 Engineering work)
What would be the worst outcome in that scenario ?
The worst outcome? You may get one of the clueless revenue inspectors who thought that an online discount requires a non-existent Railcard, and who makes up their own rules as they go along. However any (obviously incorrect) charges would at least be refunded in full, and probably with added compensation.

However, while valid tickets are not always accepted by all staff, the chances of the ticket not being accepted are minuscule and not worth worrying about. So, go for it!
 

Phil.

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The Gatwick Expresses are going via Horsham - not sure what your point is?

So despite what I read everywhere there is a direct service to and from Victoria to and from Gatwick. Why are people being sent on buses to East Grinstead with all the associated bother that it's going to be when they can be put on a direct service - yes I know it reverses at Horsham but it's still direct in that there is no need to change trains.
Perhaps my point might be that it's not very well published.
 

319321

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So despite what I read everywhere there is a direct service to and from Victoria to and from Gatwick. Why are people being sent on buses to East Grinstead with all the associated bother that it's going to be when they can be put on a direct service - yes I know it reverses at Horsham but it's still direct in that there is no need to change trains.
Perhaps my point might be that it's not very well published.

Or showing up in journey planners until a day or so ago.
 

Quakkerillo

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So despite what I read everywhere there is a direct service to and from Victoria to and from Gatwick. Why are people being sent on buses to East Grinstead with all the associated bother that it's going to be when they can be put on a direct service - yes I know it reverses at Horsham but it's still direct in that there is no need to change trains.
Perhaps my point might be that it's not very well published.

With the amount of trains that normally run, the diverted train service can't cope with the whole amount of passengers, so they try to send them all via East Grinstead instead.
 

Starmill

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You really shouldn't be worrying so much about this! The fact that you are is testament to the terrible job the railway does at revenue protection most of the time.

The Thameslink website is fairly clear to me that normal tickets are valid on these alternative routes, and then lists the route you are proposing via Horsham. I can understand your concern but it makes me very sad that you feel that way. They should be doing their best to look after their customers in difficult times not imposing more difficult requirements on you. Most passengers wouldn't even consider that they might need to split at Sutton for that journey to be valid.
 

tsr

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I would be extremely surprised if anyone did query this onboard any service. Such roundabout routes were actually often actively devised by staff during the previous blockade 2 years ago on this route, for similar reasons.

I know for a fact that the staff at Sutton themselves would think this to be a perfectly reasonable way of going about this journey, and I think all the onboard RPIs/conductors you'd meet would agree.

It is exactly for reasons like this that passengers are offered this alternative, but longer, all-rail route through Sussex and South London. The buses/trains option via East Grinstead will no doubt be used for many people, especially to relieve overcrowding due to demand for more straightforward journeys, but the diverted trains will still be advertised.
 
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