Season Ticket Usage Advice

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OysterNewbie

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Hi,

I am new to the forum as I have a question I feel sure you will be able to help me with. I recently moved to London and I have just bought an annual season ticket (gold card) for my commute and am interested to learn about what other journeys my ticket might be valid for. I'm not trying to play the system, just working out whether I can get any additional value out of my ticket.

My ticket is from Wandsworth Common WSW to "Croydon Stations" (my commute is to East Croydon ECR). There are no restrictions printed on the ticket. I often get on and off at Balham instead, as my house is fairly equidistant between the 2 stations, which makes for a shorter overall journey. Balham is on (what I would call) the "normal" route for my ticket - a direct train to ECR.

For my commute WSW-ECR, there are a number of journey options including a direct train and a number of trains with changes. BAL-ECR has a number of other options available as well. On the national Rail T&C page is the following passage: The sentence I am interested in is in bold.

You can use your Season Ticket up to and including its expiry date for any number of journeys between the stations and/or within the zone(s) shown on it at any time of day. It may be used at intermediate stations, and on any permitted route, unless a route or any other restrictions are specified on the ticket. Details are available where these tickets are issued.

How do I define a "permitted route" and "intermediate station"? If I get on at Balham, can I then use any permitted route from BAL to get to a Croydon Station? And can I then travel freely between the intermediate stations on those routes as well?

I guess the short version of my question is, what stations (aka intermediate stations) does my ticket allow my to travel to, and from, via, between etc?

Many thanks in advance,
Dave
 
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SickyNicky

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Hi, and welcome to the forum.

Your season ticket is valid via any Permitted route. These are defined in a horribily complex set of documents called the Routeing Guide. You can find this here http://www.atoc.org/about-atoc/rail-settlement-plan/routeing-guide.

Good luck in wading through it all. Many of us who have been here a while still do not understand it in full.

You are free to get on and off at any intermediate station as many times as you like. Here's a quick look at your ticket in particular.




Permitted routes from WANDSWORTH CMMN to EAST CROYDON are:
  • Any direct trains advertised from WANDSWORTH CMMN to EAST CROYDON in the current timetable
  • The shortest route with a regular train service, not including walks and transfers (6.49 miles):
    • WANDSWORTH CMMN
    • BALHAM
    • STREATHAM COMMON
    • NORBURY
    • THORNTON HEATH
    • SELHURST
    • EAST CROYDON
  • Any route 9.49 miles or less (i.e. within 3 miles of the shortest route above)
Now we start to look at mapped routes.
  • WANDSWORTH CMMN is associated with these routeing points: CLAPHAM JUNCTION, MITCHAM JUNCTION, Streatham Group.
  • EAST CROYDON is a routeing point.
  • Fares rule fails from CLAPHAM JUNCTION to EAST CROYDON, so you can't go via Clapham Junction as a mapped route (but Clapham Junction is still available as part of a route that falls within 3 miles of the shortest route)
  • Valid maps from MITCHAM JUNCTION to EAST CROYDON
    • SC
  • Valid maps from Streatham Group to EAST CROYDON
    • SD
We look at map SC and can see you can go via Mitcham Junction and Sutton.

Looking at map SD, you can go via Streatham then directly to Croydon or via Crystal Palace to Croydon.
 
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MikeWh

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Hi,

If you haven't already done so, take your Gold Card and Oyster Card to an Underground ticket office and get them to apply the discount so that any off-peak journeys you make that aren't covered by your season can be discounted on Oyster. This also applies to single journeys on the Underground and DLR and of course the off-peak caps. Balham tube station should be ok to do it as they also have a NR station adjacent.
 

OysterNewbie

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SickyNicky - that is a complicated list! I will take a look at the guide and see if I can make sense of what you have written so as not to waste your time.
One thing I will say is that the man who sold me the ticket said my ticket WAS valid on trains via Clapham Junction, in his words because I may take "any reasonable route". I asked him specifically about that journey because if I miss the direct train, going via CLJ only adds 5 mins. I'm quite surprised he said that so has he misled me?

Before I saw your answer, I had also been looking on the NR enquries website tonight and I saw somewhere that season tickets are valid on any journey on the route planner that can be made on a single ticket. If you do WSW to ECR, CLJ comes up as a change and it is a single ticket journey. What would you say about that, is it incorrect?

MikeWh - Thanks for confirming that, it was going to be my next question. I did ask whether the gold discount could be applied to oyster card at the NR counter at Balham (where I bought the ticket from) and he said NR didn't do it but I'd have to go down and ask at the tube counter whether they do it, as he didn't know. But it seems every time I go down and I'm not in a rush, the office is closed!
 

yorkie

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One thing I will say is that the man who sold me the ticket said my ticket WAS valid on trains via Clapham Junction
I believe it is, as it's no greater than 3 miles longer than the shortest route.

SickyNicky ruled out going via Clapham Jn by mapped routes, I agree it's not a mapped route.
in his words because I may take "any reasonable route"
Sort of, that certainly used to be the rule, and it is effectively the case today but not officially, as what is "reasonable" is subjective and these days there is a need to define what routes are permitted as part of the contract.

Permitted routes have replaced reasonable routes, but in reality a ticket will be accepted if it is deemed reasonable (by the person checking the ticket), if it is deemed unreasonable it will either be rejected or it will be checked to see if it is permitted.

If you can get an itinerary via a route that is neither permitted nor reasonable, then that itinerary would normally be considered valid if you book a ticket with that itinerary (and obtain reservations where applicable/available) and formed a contract at that point. An example of that would be Stoke to Liverpool with reservations via London. Without the reservations/itinerary it would, of course, not be permitted.
I asked him specifically about that journey because if I miss the direct train, going via CLJ only adds 5 mins. I'm quite surprised he said that so has he misled me?
I think he was correct, and if he wasn't he'd have likely been mistaken rather than misleading.
Before I saw your answer, I had also been looking on the NR enquries website tonight and I saw somewhere that season tickets are valid on any journey on the route planner that can be made on a single ticket. If you do WSW to ECR, CLJ comes up as a change and it is a single ticket journey. What would you say about that, is it incorrect?
It is correct.

Yes, the National Rail planner does indeed check if a route is permitted. It's not always accurate, but if you obtain such a printout then travel should be honoured (but, for a non-Season, I'd go beyond that and book it with the required itinerary if the route was not permitted)
 

OysterNewbie

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Also, SickyNicky, please can you confirm my summary:
The intermediate stations are the stations that trains pass through on permitted routes (available via the ATOC website) between Wandsworth Common and Croydon Stations.
I can't then branch off and use other permitted routes at intermediate stations (for example, if I get on at Balham, I can't then use another permitted route that might become available to me between Balham and Croydon Stations that will get me to work).
Thanks for your time.
Dave
 

MarkyMarkD

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The first part of SickyNicky's explanation needs to be considered in full, before moving on to see whether mapped routes ADD any further routes.

Mapped routes do not SUBTRACT routes which are already valid under the "shortest route" or "less than 3 miles longer than the shortest route" rules.

And the route via Clapham Junction just qualifies, under the "less than 3 miles longer than the shortest route" rule.

---

No, you cannot calculate permitted routes between intermediate points on your route, and then use them as well.
 

SickyNicky

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One thing I will say is that the man who sold me the ticket said my ticket WAS valid on trains via Clapham Junction
In fact, it IS valid, but not as a mapped route. It's valid because going via Clapham Junction is 9.21 miles and any route 9.49 miles or less is automatically permitted. I should have checked the distance via Clapham and made this clear (I have now edited the original post to clarify this). Because you're relying on distances to make the Clapham route valid, you cannot just take any route from Clapham to Croydon - you would only be valid on the shortest route or one up to 9.49 miles in total.

Complex, isn't it!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Also, SickyNicky, please can you confirm my summary:
The intermediate stations are the stations that trains pass through on permitted routes (available via the ATOC website) between Wandsworth Common and Croydon Stations.
I can't then branch off and use other permitted routes at intermediate stations (for example, if I get on at Balham, I can't then use another permitted route that might become available to me between Balham and Croydon Stations that will get me to work).
Thanks for your time.
Dave
That is correct. You may only use any station that lies on a permitted route between Wandsworth Common and Croydon Stations. You may not use any other stations.
 
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OysterNewbie

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Thank you very much everybody for your helpful responses.

It is a very strange system. It wouldn't take much for them to print off a list of current valid routes and stations when you buy the permit. It would certainly help avoid all this confusion.

The whole 3 mile rule is interesting stuff. Can I ask, where can I source the journey distances from? It's only by complete luck I ended up with a ticket that allows me to go via CLJ. The ticket would have cost the same had I bought it starting at Wandsworth Common or Balham. I went for the former just because it was a longer journey, and if I'm reading I might miss Balham occasionally, so it was supposed to be a safety net. I will nearly always be getting on/off at Balham due to the shorter journey and me living equal distance from the 2.
However, the ticket I bought allows the journey via CLJ, whereas the Balham ticket would not have.


______
Edit:
Sorry if this is me being dumb, but does this revelation make CLJ an intermediate station, effectively meaning I can start/end my travel here?

Also, what happens if I put my ticket into a gate machine at a station I am not covered for. Will the machine swallow my ticket?

Many thanks
Dave
 
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SickyNicky

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The whole 3 mile rule is interesting stuff. Can I ask, where can I source the journey distances from?
You are supposed to use the National Rail Timetable at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/timetable/. This is quite hard to follow, unsurprisingly for anything rail in Britain.

Instead, there are a few online services that will give you distances. Try:
http://mileage.railmiles.org/
http://brroutes.com/mileage/#new
http://trainscanbecheaper.info

Sorry if this is me being dumb, but does this revelation make CLJ an intermediate station, effectively meaning I can start/end my travel here?
Yes, absolutely.

However, you would be restricted in what routes you can use to get to and from Clapham Junction - these would effectively be only the shortest route to Wandsworth Common and the shortest route to Croydon Stations. In reality, any direct train from Clapham to either of these would be fine.

Also, what happens if I put my ticket into a gate machine at a station I am not covered for. Will the machine swallow my ticket?
It will probably spit your ticket out, beep and refuse to open the gates.

If you are at a valid station and this happens, you will need to ask a member of staff to let you through. If they won't, post the details on the forum here - we have some really knowledgeable experts who will help you get it accepted in future and get back any money paid / quash any unpaid fares notices etc.

I suggest you don't try to use it at an invalid station. You may be charged a penalty fare (someone else will no doubt say if this is possible in this area) or even face prosecution. If you are in any doubt, ask us here before you travel.
 

island

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It is a very strange system. It wouldn't take much for them to print off a list of current valid routes and stations when you buy the permit. It would certainly help avoid all this confusion.
Actually I wager it would take a lot for them to print the valid routes and stations when you buy a ticket. There are several very curious things that can be done in that field.
 

MichaelAMW

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Is it worth pointing out that the OP might get a bit of difficulty from the fact he is doubling back via Clapham Junction? Arguably he isn't, since he isn't actually passing through any station twice, and he shouldn't be as the 3-mile rule doesn't require consideration of doubling back, but I don't think it is out of the question that he be challenged about this, particularly if he is on a fast from CLJ to ECR.
 

AlterEgo

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Actually I wager it would take a lot for them to print the valid routes and stations when you buy a ticket. There are several very curious things that can be done in that field.
I was under the impression that something of this ilk was a long-term aspiration of ATOC, and that they're working towards it.
 

John @ home

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It wouldn't take much for them to print off a list of current valid routes and stations when you buy the permit.
I agree with island that printing off a list of current valid routes and stations for a season ticket at the point of sale would not generally be a practicable proposition.

There used to be a routeing engine called CORE which showed the number of permitted routes it calculated for each journey. Unfortunately it is no longer operational, but I do remember that it was common to be told that that the number of permitted routes for a long journey was in the hundreds of thousands. That number would be rather less with today's version of the National Routeing Guide, but a York - London Terminals season ticket will still be valid by many hundreds of different permitted routes.
I was under the impression that something of this ilk was a long-term aspiration of ATOC, and that they're working towards it.
My understanding is that they are working towards an online map-based system. A single map can display many routeing options much more effectively than a text-based system.
 
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OysterNewbie

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Is it worth pointing out that the OP might get a bit of difficulty from the fact he is doubling back via Clapham Junction? Arguably he isn't, since he isn't actually passing through any station twice, and he shouldn't be as the 3-mile rule doesn't require consideration of doubling back, but I don't think it is out of the question that he be challenged about this, particularly if he is on a fast from CLJ to ECR.
Actually, it depends on the definition of doubling back. The fast train does physically travel through Wandsworth Common, but it doesn't stop. In fact, the fast train is the exact same route for my portion of the journey (they both go to Victoria but start in differnt places), except it does CLJ to East Croydon in one go, rather than stopping at every station (and vice versa in the other direction). If it wasn't for the 3 mile rule, would that count as doubling back?

Also, I can't find any mention of this 3 mile rule in the guide. Could anyone point me in the right direction.

Thanks all.
 

RJ

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Section B of the National Routeing Guide in Detail document.

I'm not sure about anybody else on here, but I have personal experience of using a season ticket in South London. Just because it's valid, it doesn't mean that you won't have any problems. You may well be told to pay up extra for another ticket, get a Penalty Fare or reported for prosection. I don't have it from members of staff - I called the police on a gateline assistant who refused to open the gate until I paid an excess fare, when my ticket was valid at that station. However, unless you're prepared to stand your ground then you need to be careful with doing things like trying to leave Clapham Junction on a Wandsworth Common to Croydon ticket.
 

benk1342

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As I pointed out in this thread, what is listed in section B of the National Routeing Guide in Detail is not the generalised 3-mile rule: it is the Common Routeing Point Rule, which by its terms applies only if "a journey does not have an origin routeing point and a destination routeing point". As the journey in question here has distinct origin and destination routeing points (Mitcham Junction and East Croydon), the Common Routeing Point Rule does not apply.

The only reference to the generalised 3-mile rule in the Routeing Guide is on page F9 of the National Routeing Guide in Detail, oddly in the section (E) discussing easements. Despite the odd placement the wording is crystal clear and I do not doubt the validity of the generalised 3-mile rule, but for avoidance of doubt it is not the rule in section B of the National Routeing Guide in Detail.
 

OysterNewbie

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The only reference to the generalised 3-mile rule in the Routeing Guide is on page F9 of the National Routeing Guide in Detail, oddly in the section (E) discussing easements. .
Thank you very much, I had not read that bit as I didn't think easements applied to my journey. Agree, strange place to put it!

RJ said:
You may well be told to pay up extra for another ticket, get a Penalty Fare or reported for prosection.
This is one of the problems with making complex rules and then not making the information clear or easy to understand. In defence of the gate staff, I suspect they are poorly paid and have little incentive to learn the foibles of the rule system when the majority of passengers take standard journeys. I will print the relevant sections of the guide and carry it in my work bag for backup. This day and age there should really be an official computer program/website that gives a definitive answer. Not a six part PDF which talks in riddles.

Originally Posted by OysterNewbie View Post
Sorry if this is me being dumb, but does this revelation make CLJ an intermediate station, effectively meaning I can start/end my travel here?
Yes, absolutely.

However, you would be restricted in what routes you can use to get to and from Clapham Junction - these would effectively be only the shortest route to Wandsworth Common and the shortest route to Croydon Stations. In reality, any direct train from Clapham to either of these would be fine.
OK, so what about buying a ticket (single or return) from Clapham junction to Basingstoke (for example), and then using my season ticket to get to Clap Jn (from Wandsworth Common or Balham). Would that be permitted?

Thanks everyone for your input so far, it's great there are so many knowledgeable people who are willing to help. Every time I read more into it, I come up with more questions. I work in software testing/analysis so it comes with the territory I'm afraid. Thanks for your patience.
 

SickyNicky

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OK, so what about buying a ticket (single or return) from Clapham junction to Basingstoke (for example), and then using my season ticket to get to Clap Jn (from Wandsworth Common or Balham). Would that be permitted?
Yes - that would be fine. Your season is valid to Clapham Junction so it's fine to switch to another ticket there.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
This day and age there should really be an official computer program/website that gives a definitive answer. Not a six part PDF which talks in riddles.
I would be wary of such a program as it might be taken as an opportunity to restrict passenger's rights. However, there are unofficial programs around that do the job.

If you're interested, find the thread on "Fares Workshops" and book yourself into one. They're totally free and really interesting.
 
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