Travel on earlier train than booked

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by gooses, 27 Aug 2011.

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  1. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I fully agree that people who travel on an earlier or later train without seking an endorsement at the booking office or the permission of the guard, should be penalised.

    However, in the context of this thread, I don't think it is wrong if someone asks if they can travel earlier. I was asked a lot at Reading, usually when people overestimated the time that it would take to get through Heathrow Airport and on to Reading.

    I always told them they had three options. Buy a new ticket, have a word with the guard, or go and get something to eat or drink at Gregory's Cafe (they should have given me commission!). I always told them the price of a new ticket and explained that if they just got on the early train that is what they may have to pay on board.
     
  2. island

    island Established Member

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    Surely they should be offered an excess plus £10 fee to a walk-up fare if they buy before they board?
     
  3. snail

    snail Established Member

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    You have it the wrong way round. Poor planning would be to book an early train on AP then have to buy an expensive open ticket on a later one. Surely common sense, if you are trying to restrain costs, is to do exactly what most appear to which is book an AP ticket on a later train to allow for meetings to overrun. If that means hanging around for a couple of hours, so be it.

    But don't be shocked if people ask to be allowed on an earlier train. You are running a service, in the eyes of the public, even if you are blinkered by the rule book. Good service would allow discretion if it is relatively simple to do so, whatever the reason.

    One 'common sense' plan for a company (by your definition) would be to book two AP tickets, the second one being a contingency in case meetings overrun but that doubles the cost of travel. Would you rather people did that, so trains are running with large numbers of AP seats paid for but not occupied (I know that would happen if early travel was allowed, but is that so common)? Doesn't sound that sensible to me. Or do you just want everyone to pay top whack for open tickets?
     
  4. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    We were told, in those days, that no changes could be made to the return portion of an Advance. It was a new ticket or wait. Advance tickets could not be excessed.

    I don't know if that was correct or not, it was almost fifteen years ago! But that was the instruction.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Let's be fair. The railway is not a public service any longer. The train companies want to maximise revenue. The government wants train companies to maximise revenue, as this emans less subsidy or more premium paid.

    TOC's do not care about your company, or mine, saving money. They provide a range of fares and let organisations and individuals decide what is best for them.

    If a company wants flexibility, they have the option of buying a flexible ticket. If they would prefer to save money, then there are cheaper options that might be available. If this entails the employee waiting around for the correct train, with the associated salary coststhen I am sure they will take that into account.

    As I said, I have no problem with people asking if they might be able to catch an earlier train. But it should be expected as a right, and people should not get upset if their request is turned down.
     
  5. snail

    snail Established Member

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    Absolutely. But equally, rail staff should not get on their high horse if asked.
     
  6. island

    island Established Member

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    Not by any means having a go at you, but Advances don't have an outbound or return portion :) So I suspect the answer is somewhat out of date.
     
  7. Sapphire Blue

    Sapphire Blue Member

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    On the one occasion I asked the guard at Reading if I could board the train to Manchester an hour before the one I had an Advance ticket for, he said it was fine with him, but he was being replaced at Birmingham after which another full ticket check would take place. The next guard may not be in agreement.

    I went to the cafe for an hour.

    I am in the habit of buying a lot of Advance tickets, and because of them being train specific, allow plenty of padding in travel plans. Because of this I often arrive very early for the booked train.
    I always ask if I can get an earlier service and do not feel guilty in doing so.
    I would estimate that about 20% of the time the guard/TM allow me to travel.
    The other 80% of the time, a polite "No problem mate" and its to the nearest bar/cafe or just mooch around the station.
    No favours are expected, and any given are accepted with gratitude.
     
  8. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I quite agree. Though I believe it happens more on the itnernet than on the platform.

    I am pretty certain that they used to be issued as Apex Returns. As I say, the names have certainly changed, so the rules probably have as well. Assuming the instructions given out were correct in the first place!

    I merely quoted my experiences to try and show how frequent the requests were in relation to airport travel - there were far more requests for an earlier train than a later one!

    I usually do the same, although I rarely if ever try and travel on an earlier service. I am happy enough to go and have a drink or a look round WH Smiths.

    After a University appointment in Birmingham that finished four hours earlier than I had thought, I went to the cinema!
     
  9. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    I agree entirely, but there is no harm in asking ;)

    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    I and most on this forum, realise the railways (except in some metropolitan areas) are no longer a public service. However, many of the general public probably do still perceive it as such. I also know the 'rules' of railway ticketing, but most of my work colleagues would not.

    So don't be surprised, or offended, if someone asks to travel on an earlier train. If the answer is 'no' then, of course, any abusive response is completely unacceptable.
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2011
  10. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    Apex, Super Apex, Super Advance, Advance, Leisure First, First Apex, First Advance and Virgin Value all had single and return tickets. Virgin Value were the first to change to single only (but always had the change of travel plans fee IIRC), the others lasted quite a while after that, although I can't recall offhand exactly when it changed. Of-course, they all became Advance Single under 'Simplification'.
     
  11. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    They are. Some people think that this shouldn't apply to them as they are special. :roll:
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I'm neither surprised or offended when they ask. My usual response is to offer them an excess plus £10 (which is what the platform staff should be doing, if they have been asked - most do).

    Unfortunately, neither am I surprised (although sometimes I am offended) when I then have to listen to an abusive tirade about what a "jobsworth" I am.
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2011
  12. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I believe that Central Value were also offered as returns.
     
  13. LondonJohn

    LondonJohn Member

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    I have asked once if I could travel 2hours early and that was after a night out in Manchester where I was attacked and had stitches and a nice shiny black eye. I had spent most of the night in A&E and just wanted to get home after checking out of my hotel. The train manager said yes which was fantastic for me but had he said no I would have fully understood that and gone to the First Class lounge to wait for my train.

    Maybe the TOC should look at this as raising extra revenue. Rather than pay the fare difference plus an amendment fee why not simply charge a flat rate amendment fee of £5/£10/£20 and let a passenger travel early SUBJECT TO CAPACITY with permission denied on busy trains/trains known to be busy.

    Whilst I know advanced tickets are not quite the same as flight seats, a lot of the low cost carriers on high frequency routes (Glasgow/Edinburgh-London for example) would have previously used discretion and booked you onto you earlier flight if you got to the airport earlier. This does help them as it frees up your seat later. Now they use it as an advertising trick and they will put you on an earlier flight for something like £25 and no fare difference. This is also used in the US too for around $50 (some airlines do it for nothing).

    Also, P&O Ferries will allow you to travel on a ferry up to 2 hours either side of your booked sailing without payment of any fare difference or an admin fee on the Dover-Calais route again subject to space being available. In the case of ferries, depending on the date/time crossings could be be much cheaper or more expensive so you could end up travelling on a crossing whose fare was more expensive or cheaper than the one you paid at the time of booking. In the event of a cheaper crossing being travelled on in this 4 hour window no refund would be due.
     
    Last edited: 16 Sep 2011
  14. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Jow will that affect sales of more flexible tickets such as off peak and super off peak? How much revenue will be lost through far fewer people buying them compared to the revenue raised by the flat rate charge?

    You cannot really compare railways with airlines, although many people do. Airlines do not oeprate in anywhere near the same way. Railways allow true walk up travel to multiple destinations on the same service. Rail passengers have season tickets, rovers, and rangers as well as walk up and advance tickets of various prices. There is no check in, in many places you just turn up and get on!
     
  15. Scooby

    Scooby Member

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    In hindsight, we could have done that, but we just put it down to experience and decide to have a short ( 3 and a half hour day) in London.

    In realtion to the thread, I was just pleased that the 'Person In Charge' had the discretion/authority to do what they did for us.
     
  16. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    On one occasion I was feeling unwell, so I wandered down to an earlier train, and fortunately the guard was a friendly member of this forum "travelling with us?" he asked. I explained I wasn't meant to get that train, but he said it was fine, so that was good, I didn't have to ask :) Which was just as well as I felt really ill by the time I would have been booked to arrive!
     
  17. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    But you really should have purchased a flexible ticket anyway. ;)
     
  18. DelayRepay

    DelayRepay Member

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    I had a job interview in London and had an advance ticket from yorkshire. Unfortunately there were delays of over an hour. I asked if I could catch an earlier train and the guard agreed, which meant i got to london only 10 minutes after the train I'd booked should have arrived. Happy customer and the toc avoided a delay repay claim.
     
  19. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    That is a different situation altogether, which is captured by the Conditions.

    The Conditions of Advance tickets state, “If the train you purchased a ticket for is cancelled or delayed by more than 60 minutes, special arrangements will be made to accommodate you on another train (although a seat cannot be guaranteed)”.

    This means that during disruption to normal services, a passenger is permitted to travel on another train without invoking any 'discretion' by staff.
    Interestingly, it also implies that such a passenger is not required to be delayed by 60 or more minutes before being conveyed by an alternative service; it is enough just to know that the service WILL BE 60 or more minutes late (which on long distance journeys can readily be established in advance of the scheduled departure time. Usually.). Exceptionally, this relief from the strict conditions of an Advance can result in the anomaly that the alternative service available actually leaves BEFORE the scheduled departure time of the delayed service!

    I think the point which the OP and others on this thread are discussing is the validity, or the discretion that may or may not be requested, of an Advance ticket on a service running ahead of the booked train, and when there are no operational reasons (such as the above) to automatically vary the validity. Nevertheless, I'm sure you were pleased that the Guard agreed to convey you!
     
    Last edited: 16 Sep 2011
  20. WelshBluebird

    WelshBluebird Established Member

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    How about a situation I have been in the past (although on a normal anytime ticket, not an advance one).

    Travelling on multiple services, the initial services are ok, but the connecting services are delayed. By waiting until the train you are supposed to catch, you will end up being late. By getting an earlier train, you will end up being "on time". How does it work then? I assume you should technically wait, and then claim back from the delayed TOC, but surely just making sure you are on time would make more sense?
     
  21. John @ home

    John @ home Established Member Fares Advisor

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    If the passenger is travelling with an Advance ticket, the conditions include:
    There is no minimum amount of delay which needs to elapse before the passenger is entitled to take the next available train(s).

    In addition, it is made clear in the answers to Qs 22-24 in the Advance Fares FAQs thread that, where the ticket is not limited to travel by a single named train company, the connecting service(s) may be by any train company operating on the route in the event of delay to the allocated service(s).
     
    Last edited: 17 Sep 2011
  22. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Now reading it again. Seems that I misunderstood what he was saying in the first place. :(
     
  23. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    There is no compulsion to stick to any train on an Anytime ticket, even if you've booked reservations. You can change your plans within the validity of the ticket as much as you like.
     
  24. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Ah, that old customer service chestnut. Allow everyone to take the p*ss and obtain a service they have not actually paid for in the name of customer service. Why bother even having T&Cs then?

    You in support of scrapping Anytime tickets in favour of "Advance Anytime" then? Of course, such a crippling move would be excellent customer service?
     
    Last edited: 17 Sep 2011
  25. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    That is very, very interesting - something which I was not aware of. Thank you all! :)

    So if the 21:07 service from London Euston is delayed, I can hop onto the 21:10 service. Hooray! :D It seems a bit strange that I can take a different service for a delay of 3 minutes! I assume that you could even take a different service for a delay of 1 minute, although I have never seen two trains to the same destination depart at such close times. ;)

    EDIT: Just a quick question. If the 21:07 service was delayed, would I have to get my ticket "validated" before travelling on the next available service, or could I just "hop on" the 21:10?

    Oh and another question! :) If I had an Advance ticket for the 18:29 London Midland service from London Euston - and it was delayed - would I then be able to catch the 18:33 Virgin Trains service? Even though this would get me to my destination over 1 hour early?
     
    Last edited: 17 Sep 2011
  26. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    I can never understand why giving a customer exactly what they paid for is considered to be poor customer service. I consider it good customer service to the other customers who have paid the extra for a flexible ticket.

    If I go into McDonalds, order and pay for a cheeseburger, I don't then call the manager and say "This is poor customer service, I ordered a cheeseburger and your staff wouldn't upgrade it to a quarter-pounder for free".
     
  27. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    Just the same as someone applying the correct rules / procedure is called a jobsworth. Usually by someone who has not been allowed to do something they haven't paid for
     
  28. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Human nature I'm afraid! I try to make it easier for you guys by explaining (up to 12 times in some cases) that such tickets are only valid on the booked train shown then pointing them towards the ticket office!

     
  29. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    You quoted the answer to your last question at the top of your post. I suspect any Advance LM ticket would be printed LM Only, and you'd have to wait for the next LM train.
     
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