ScotRail at Ayr & joining the Highland Sleeper at Edinburgh

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by dvboy, 22 Nov 2011.

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  1. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    This follows on from my SailRail to & from Belfast at the weekend. Coming back was a bit of an adventure, although I knew it would be, I think I ended up on Plan D or E in the end. I was coming back via Stranraer, on the Stena Voyager's penultimate sailing.

    Engineering works meant there were no train services from Stranraer to Ayr, so a coach took us to meet the 21:25 from Ayr to Glasgow, which on arriving at Ayr had become a train to Paisley, and was also cancelled. We were informed that this was due to engineering works as the train should have been the one coming from Stranraer (I assume this was an oversight by Scotrail that they couldn't supply a train at this time but it had apparently been the same situation the previous weekend), so instead we were on another bus this time direct to Glasgow.

    My initial plan had been to then head for Westerton to get the sleeper but having rang Scotrail earlier in the week I knew there were no seats available on the sleeper from Westerton to Crewe, and had prepared for a long wait at Glasgow, where a friend who lives locally, while he could not put me up for the night, had agreed to keep me company for at least some of the time. When he text to say he wouldn't be able to make it, I started looking for options to try to get home quicker than waiting for the 4:28 to Preston on which I had a seat reserved.

    By shooting up the M77, we actually got into Glasgow earlier than we would have had the train ran. National Rail Enquiries (PDA version) suggested a 23:30 train from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh and to join the sleeper there and change at Crewe, so I checked with the ticket office at Glasgow Queen Street (showing them my phone); the woman there agreed that was my best option. I was warned about reservations being required and would be relying on good will, and thought I'd take the risk as I'd rather spend 4 hours stranded in Edinburgh than in Glasgow. I actually took the 22:30 from Glasgow Queen Street so I wouldn't be hanging round there any longer than necessary.

    Not being familiar with Sleepers and ScotRail, I got to Edinburgh to find it wasn't on the departures board at all, as you are not supposed to join the service there. The man in the East Coast ticket office told me he was aware it shows up as a connection on NRE, and to have a word with Scotrail staff, who advised me to ask the guard on its arrival; the duty manager even later came to find me to tell me which platform it would come in on.

    The guard of the Fort William portion of the train which came in first said there would probably not be a problem as his seated coach had been empty all the way down, but I would have to check with the guard of the other half of the train. I did this, and the guard was happy to carry me as there were a few seats available, so I got to ride on the Sleeper to Crewe and get a bit of shut-eye.

    Incidentally I was surprised that my ticket was valid via Edinburgh, and that although I was asked if I had one, and explained what it was, it was only actually ever checked on the 5:47 Crewe-Birmingham XC service, the last leg of my journey.

    The three questions I have are:

    Why do they not allow you to book or join the Highland sleeper at Edinburgh, since it stops there for a while anyway, if you only want to go as far as Preston or Crewe?

    Why did ScotRail Telesales tell me there were no seats available to book from Westerton-Crewe (as discussed in this thread) when clearly there were?

    I notice the same journey option does not appear in NRE if I try to query it for next Sunday, so has someone today perhaps made sure this doesn't show up in the future?
     
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  3. raildude

    raildude Member

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    People don't always sit in seats they reserve, so if people reserve sleeper seats, and don't turn up, you won't be able to tell until the train actually arrives. The staff computer will just show no availability. If there has been a no-show, you get lucky!

    Technically, the Fort William train isn't actually the "sleeper".

    The "sleeper" from Fort William is actually just a Fort William to Edinburgh train (1B01). This joins a Inverness-London Euston train at Edinburgh (as well as an Aberdeen to Edinburgh train).

    NRES probably can't see that they all join up so assumes you can't get to Crewe.
     
  4. 4SRKT

    4SRKT Established Member

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    The northbound Aberdeen portion is in the GB National Timetable as a train leaving Edinburgh at 04:40, with the calling points shown as set down only. This is a mistake surely, as I believe the only part of the sleeper that can be used a normal train is the Fort William portion.
     
  5. headshot119

    headshot119 Established Member

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    NRES should be able to see that you can get to Crewe. As it realises that
    1B01 joins with 1M16 at Edinburgh.

    It's the same way you board a Euston bound Voyager at Wrexham (1D25) which is actually just a train to Chester, this then joins with (1R24) to Euston. NRES recongines you can book a seat from Wrexham - Crewe.
     
  6. 4SRKT

    4SRKT Established Member

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    Checked on NRE and the 04:40 Edinburgh > Aberdeen is shown as a valid train with the anytime fare applying for punters travelling within Scotland. The 04:16 Inverness train is also shown, but no fare is marked against it, instead some waffle about compulsory reservations. Both the Aberdeen and Inverness southbound workings are shown as options to Edinburgh, but with no fare displayed. When I was on the sleeper last month both portions departed Edinburgh early though, the Inverness at 04:00 and the Aberdeen at 04:36.

    This would suggest that the 04:40 Edinburgh > Aberdeen is available for travel from Edinburgh to Aberdeen (and all other calling points) to anyone with a valid ticket and a reservation (as long as he's prepared for the train to depart early!). I never knew that.
     
  7. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    I think that may be what is commonly known as "a mistake". I'm fairly sure the station can be locked shut to public access at that time!
     
  8. 4SRKT

    4SRKT Established Member

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    The station isn't locked because the 04:50 Fort William is a train that can be boarded at Edinburgh, leaving only 10 minutes after the Aberdeen. I thought it was just a mistake at first when I noticed it in the GB Timetable, but the fact that it is in NRE today (nearly 6 months after the book was published) showing that any ticket valid between Edinburgh and Aberdeen can be used with a reservation, suggests maybe it isn't.

    UPDATE: just looked up York > Aberdeen late this evening on NRE and it shows an anytime single costing £116 with route York 2052 > Edinburgh 23:33, then Edinburgh 04:40, Aberdeen 07:35, i.e. the sleeper.
     
    Last edited: 22 Nov 2011
  9. EltonRoad

    EltonRoad Established Member

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    I don't think you can use the sleeper from Edinburgh to Aberdeen as a local service - it doesn't show up on East Coast or other similar booking engines whereas the Fort William service does. Likewise, it's not shown in the ScotRail Edinburgh - Aberdeen printed timetable. Maybe it comes up on NRE simply as a quirk of the system, with it being a portioned train, it's not shown accurately?

    Seems there's a new development with effect from the new timetable - the current 0757 from Aviemore to Inverness doesn't run, and instead the sleeper becomes "joinable" at Kingussie dep 0719 and stops additionally at Carrbridge to compensate for the withdrawn local service. At least that's how I interpret the new timetable books.
     
  10. 4SRKT

    4SRKT Established Member

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    Possibly, but the Inverness portion is also part of the same portioned train and it doesn't show up. It'd be interesting to show up with a valid ticket and the relevant page from NRE printed out and see what happened. Since any through passengers from Euston to Fort William will vacate seats in the Aberdeen seated coach at Edinburgh, it does mean that there will be free seats in that portion, but not in the Inverness one, even if all seats in both seated coaches were fully booked north of Preston.
     
  11. CompactDstrxion

    CompactDstrxion Member

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    I would assume you can't join or alight the Highland Sleeper at Edinburgh to go to/from England because it could get clogged up with Edinburgh passengers when it's meant to serve locations further north. I wish it were possible for the Lowland to stop somewhere in the north of England but it's probably too late by then.
     
  12. 4SRKT

    4SRKT Established Member

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    This is indeed the case, but both the printed GB timetable and NRE show otherwise. I doubt it will get that clogged at 04:40 TBH! I would guess that in practice if you showed up with a valid ticket and there were a spare seat (which would be certain had there even been one through seated passenger to Fort William) you would be let travel.
     
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