Strange routing. Is it valid?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by youngpete, 12 Mar 2019.

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  1. youngpete

    youngpete Member

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    I can get a Standard Off-Peak Day Return for HS1 from Sittingbourne to St Pancras and have a routing either direct via Gravesend or the long way round via the coast. As the ticket appears to allow break of journey this means I could stop off at Ramsgate, Dover, Folkestone and Ashford if I so desired. Is this really a valid route?
     
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  3. Romilly

    Romilly Established Member

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    I suspect not (i.e. the long route is fine for Sittingbourne to St Pancras, but not for breaks of journey on the way). Para.3.2 of the Forum's fares & ticketing guide explains it as follows:

    And I have now checked the routeing guide, which confirms what I thought, namely, that the only mapped HS route is the short HS route (see Map HK), and that the long route is permitted only when covered in a direct train between Sittingbourne and St Pancras that you stay on for the whole of that journey.
     
    Last edited: 12 Mar 2019
  4. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It's not a valid route, no.

    A through train from the origin of your ticket to the destination of your ticket is valid.

    If you were to get off at a station that was not on a permitted route, and attempt to break your journey there, you could end up being either charged an additional/excess fare or you could end up being threatened with prosecution, which would be expensive and stressful to defend against and would have serious consequences for you if you lost, and therefore it is a battle I would strongly advise against getting into.

    Edit: just to clarify I am not saying you wouldn't win such a case; indeed if you were properly represented by a suitably qualified and knowledgeable solicitor I believe it would be quite a winnable case, but is it worth the risk of potentially incurring the associated costs? I am far from convinced that it would be worth it, and I personally strongly advise against using a ticket in this manner.
     
    Last edited: 13 Mar 2019
  5. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

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    If I ask the EMT journey planner for a London (all) to Gravesend ticket, it only comes up with the short routes, However, if I specify I want to go via Ashford International, it comes up with itineraries only for the long route, and offers me Off Peak Day Return tickets. If I look at the ticket restrictions for that ticket, by clicking on the ticket, it tells me:
    BREAK OF JOURNEY
    You may start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station along the route of travel.

    As I am being sold a ticket with a route of travel around the Kent Coast, this seems to be telling me that I CAN break journey along that route as the OP suggested. This may be a short-coming in the wording on the EMT web-site, but surely it should be honoured as part of the contract of sale?
     
  6. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Feel free to use that defence if you are prosecuted.

    My prediction would be that, providing you were represented by a suitably qualified solicitor, such a case would be quite winnable (though it could be costly in terms of time, stress and money to defend), but the consequences could include a crackdown on break of journey restrictions, and/or route restrictions being applied to the tickets and/or the through trains rule being revised/amended, and/or the trains changing headcode part way through the loop (as was done on the Fife Circle, Sutton Loop etc).
     
  7. DJ737

    DJ737 Member

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    The Southeastern website also states that this ticket is valid for break of journey.
     
  8. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    As stated by Yorkie, it's a valid route and if you are explicitly told that you can break your journey, that is the end of the matter legally speaking.

    However, when TOCs get "annoyed" by the use of a route in a certain way, they may decide to prosecute a case, or at best attempt to charge an additional fare or issue a Penalty Fare, even though it is entirely unjustified. If any such case does occur, with the passenger having been explicitly told they could break their journey anywhere en-route, no doubt they would be assisted in fighting the matter by the members of the forum. But some people simply wouldn't want to use a ticket where that risk exists - e.g. they may be happy to use split tickets, but not this.
     
  9. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Having obtained some legal advice from some contacts I have, they say that there can be no question that the train company would be in the wrong and that a properly mounted defence ought to succeed - if the passenger was told they could break their journey en-route. Of course, them being wrong does not stop them prosecuting, thanks to the obscene legal rights and powers the TOCs enjoy in England and Wales.
     
  10. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I know of cases where tickets were used in a manner that the train company didn't like, but the customer was entirely in the right, yet the customer chose not to incur the huge costs of a legal battle, and therefore ended up out of pocket.

    If anyone wishes to use a ticket in the manner described in the opening post they should consult a suitably qualified solicitor first and ensure they have sufficient time and funds to fight a potential prosecution.
     
  11. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I certainly wouldn't say that it is necessary to obtain legal advice just to make use of rights that are as plain as day as we are talking about here, but I agree that, at the very least, the potential problems should be considered when deciding whether any saving is worth the potential hassle.

    It is also worth noting that, where a solicitor believes there is a good case, they may agree to work on a basis whereby they recover their costs from the train company or Central Funds (if it proceeds to a prosecution), with no prepayment needed. Therefore, the decisions that one particular individual took don't bear all too much relevance in whether someone else, who can judge the matter for themselves, should exercise their rights or not.

    What can no doubt be agreed upon is that it is a very alarming situation indeed when people are worried of exercising contractual rights they have been given, because of the thuggish and possibly unlawful consequences they fear.
     
    Last edited: 13 Mar 2019
  12. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    I don't agree with the tenuous argument for break of journey when using through train rule and wouldn't expend any resources supporting anyone who gets headaches after doing it knowingly.

    The reason for this is that it is clear enough in writing what the intention is behind the direct train rule.

    Routes that are permitted because they are mapped or because of mileage and NRE's generous interpretations of the term 'shortest route', go to town with them as it's contractually agreed you can but the direct train rule does not convey the same break of journey rights. If you're using tickets like this to go round the coast your ticket ceases to be valid once you alight at an intermediate station and let the train go.
     
  13. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Maybe, but I am going to advise people accordingly because that way if people choose not to accept my advice, they can't say they were not warned.

    I do not think the average person should merely 'consider' the potential problems (which include a criminal record, if convicted).
    Sounds great in theory, but in practice I know of people who were unexpectedly prosecuted for using tickets that were far more obviously valid than in this case, and who did not have the time or finances or wish to deal with stress to achieve a victory. I therefore have serious concerns regarding the potential outcomes of any cases involving this more contentious example of disputed validity.
    While I don't deny that can happen, it is not clear to everyone that there is a contractual right to a break of journey under the through trains rule. Yes, your argument may win in court,however see the concerns expressed by @RJ who we both know to be experienced and knowledgeable in the area of railway ticketing validity & disputes:
     
  14. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Fair enough, but I do feel that it's overreacting a little to say that you should consult a solicitor to use a ticket whose validity is as clear as this one. It is not as if one is proposing to use a ticket whose validity is extremely tenuous because it relies on your own interpretation of the Routeing Guide, for instance. All you are doing is using exactly the rights you have explicitly been told you get.

    If they shouldn't be "considering" it, what should they be doing? :lol:

    Again, I'm not sure how one person's decisions give ground for serious concerns. If a particular person wants to use a ticket in this way, it is fair game to warn them about the potential issues they might face, but ultimately they can decide whether they want to deal with them or not. Other peoples' decisions are not entirely relevant IMO!

    I agree that RJ is a very experienced and knowledgeable member of the forum. I haven't come to my standpoint just as it is, either. I came to it by reading the text you are given to tell you what rights and conditions apply to a given ticket, and then referring to some legal contacts I have. They agreed with my interpretation and therefore I feel confident in that what I am saying is correct. Of course, that's not to say that that is the way a Court would find it - many find that Magistrates' Courts don't deliver reliable justice, to put it nicely - but ultimately, if someone wanted they could still take the matter further to have a proper legal determination. In many cases where that has happened, including some on this forum I believe, the train company (at least during the privatised era) has backed off, fearing an adverse precedent.

    If one applied the same level of caution equally across all ticketing matters, it could surely be said that you should consult a solicitor before boarding without a ticket at a station like in the circumstances mentioned here, where no-one disputes that the OP is in the right, and yet the train company are proposing a prosecution! I don't think there is any point in taking it to the nth degree. You decide what you want to do and you sometimes have to take a risk. People should be informed about the risk but they needn't be nannied about it and told in the strongest terms possible to outright avoid it. That should be reserved for when it is unquestioned that the proposed actions are completely wrong.
     
    Last edited: 13 Mar 2019
  15. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    The permissibility of any route as per the NRCoT or even the Routeing Guide isn't something that comes into consideration here - it is a very simple issue of that, you ask for a ticket from A to B via C. You are given an itinerary via C, and you are told that you can break your journey at any intermediate station.

    If we simply used that generic example then no-one would question that you can break your journey between A and B along the route via C. The mere fact that the route in this particular thread's case is circuitous isn't really relevant - you have been sold an agreed set of rights for a certain price, so those rights must be respected and that is the end of the matter.

    Some may say there are 'more legitimate' causes to be supporting, say, passengers who get in trouble for travelling along the fastest route because it's not "permitted", but I don't think we should discriminate between different sets of what are ultimately rights-holders. They have each got certain rights, and in each relevant case those rights either have been infringed, or are at risk of being infringed. Regardless of the circumstances, that isn't on and I won't stand for it.
     
  16. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

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    The direct train rule that states break of journey is not permitted in this case is an obscure rule in an obscure document that the general public buying a ticket are not even made aware of. By contrast, the ticket-purchasing web-site clearly states in writing that break of journey is permitted, and the text is readily accessible by one click of the mouse. I agree with the warning that someone breaking journey could get into difficulties, but surely any TOC who tried taking this to court wouldn't have a leg to stand on.
     
  17. maniacmartin

    maniacmartin Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    I would advise not breaking your journey when relying on the through train rule, unless you are prepared to have your day in court.
     
  18. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I agree, it is unwise to rely on the through train rule (i.e. if you just looked in the timetable or on RealTime Trains to see it's a through train).

    If, on the other hand, you are relying on the rights you have been explicitly told you have, in relation to an itinerary and route shown as being valid on, and being sold in conjunction with, the ticket you have, then whilst of course the possibility of Court cannot be eliminated, the passenger is on far clearer ground.
     
  19. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm sure they are all very valid arguments on paper, and I am sure people reading the thread can all make up their own mind from the arguments put forward.
     
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