Why is Rugby-Taunton route Via Gloucester?!

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IrishDave

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The only routes in the fares manual for tickets from Rugby to Taunton are "Via Gloucester", and "XC & Connections", covering non-advance and advance tickets respectively. Why on earth would anyone force people into going via Gloucester on that route? A "via Cheltenham Spa" would make sense, but via Gloucester?

The weirder thing is, I looked it up on NRE and it will quite happily spit out the obvious route of Rugby-Birmingham and then Birmingham-Taunton on a direct XC service that doesn't call at Gloucester, and then say that it's valid on (say) an Off-Peak Return, where it clearly states "Route of ticket VIA GLOUCESTER - Travel must involve passing through or changing at Gloucester".

I couldn't see any relevant easements - is there something I'm missing? Or is NRE wrong?
 
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LexyBoy

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Noone will force you to go via Gloucester!

These fares are probably a relic from the days Gloucester was on cross country routes. There may not be a specific easement but there is an easement along the lines that journeys to Gloucester may go via Cheltenham.
 

bignosemac

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You'll probably find it cheaper splitting the fares on that journey anyway, so I shouldn't unduly worry about the via Gloucester anomaly.
 

emorris

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Easement 84:
Journeys from or via Bristol Parkway or Bristol Temple Meads to Gloucester may go via Cheltenham. This easement applies in both directions.

Edit: I'm not sure whether this includes going via Gloucester though.
 

IrishDave

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Noone will force you to go via Gloucester!

Unless you get a particularly pedantic XC guard? I meant "forcing" from the view of the ticket says you must go via Gloucester, even though it's insane.

These fares are probably a relic from the days Gloucester was on cross country routes. There may not be a specific easement but there is an easement along the lines that journeys to Gloucester may go via Cheltenham.

Even in the days when Gloucester was on XC not *every* train went via Gloucester, so it would still have been somewhat limiting.

You'll probably find it cheaper splitting the fares on that journey anyway, so I shouldn't unduly worry about the via Gloucester anomaly.

True. However, the reason it came up was I was trying to find overdistance tickets that would give the required flexibility of route - my housemate (in Coventry) commutes to Banbury (and has a season ticket), and wanted to go straight from there to Taunton (i.e. via Reading) and come back to Coventry via Birmingham - I decided a Cov-Taunton SVR was probably best (especially since that isn't evening-barred out of Reading!). But not before looking at Rugby-Taunton and being baffled by it being "via Gloucester".

Easement 84:
Edit: I'm not sure whether this includes going via Gloucester though.

I was under the impression that it didn't, and I'm not sure what it would permit in this case anyway... The only one that I thought might have relevance was 700093:

Customers may double back between Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa.

So would a permitted route thus be Rugby-Birmingham-Cheltenham-Gloucester-Cheltenham-Taunton, and one could then use break-of-journey rules to simply leave out the Cheltenham-Gloucester-Cheltenham bit? (I realise this is entirely theoretical, since actually doubling back would be completely pointless, and leaving it out would probably be accepted by the guard anyway...)

I'm still baffled (both by the ticket route, and by NRE's interpretation thereof)...
 

emorris

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I think I might have got it. I don't think the train actually has to go through Gloucester station, just the area of Gloucester. If you have a look at this journey (which is part of a valid itinerary if changing at Birmingham), it passes through "Gloucester Yard Jn" but not the station.

Also, if you search for journeys (I used the East Coast site), it will suggest direct journeys changing at Birmingham etc, which don't stop at Gloucester. Even if you put "via Gloucester" in manually, it won't make it stop there.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Looking at the map, there's a line which bypasses the station:
 
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142094

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If a ticket has Via Gloucester, it means you have to travel through the station - the general public would not know if it went through Gloucester Yard Junction.
 

emorris

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If a ticket has Via Gloucester, it means you have to travel through the station - the general public would not know if it went through Gloucester Yard Junction.

Well I've found nothing to suggest that. An average member of the public would also not know whether a particular service passes through a station; only if it stops at it. And the ticket booking websites suggest itineraries which do not stop at Gloucester.
 

bignosemac

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The average passenger is perfectly protected by their itinerary. I agree it's an error in the fares database and may cause slight concern when one sees it printed on a ticket, but it's highly unlikely that there would be any negative consequences for someone travelling on such a ticket.

I've brought it to the attention of CrossCountry (who price the flow) nonetheless.
 

142094

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Well I've found nothing to suggest that. An average member of the public would also not know whether a particular service passes through a station; only if it stops at it. And the ticket booking websites suggest itineraries which do not stop at Gloucester.

If a booking engine is willing to give out an itinerary and reservations for the above journey then something must be wrong with either the booking engine or the route Via Gloucester. In 99% of cases, where a ticket says 'Via' then the person must go that way - and if they don't then they can be done for being off-route.
 

Paul Kelly

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I think I might have got it. I don't think the train actually has to go through Gloucester station, just the area of Gloucester. If you have a look at this journey (which is part of a valid itinerary if changing at Birmingham), it passes through "Gloucester Yard Jn" but not the station.

Surprisingly enough, I think this may be close enough to the right answer. ;) The ATOC Master Station Names file (downloadable in the timetable data from data.atoc.org) includes Gloucester Barnwood Junction as part of Gloucester station. And OpenTrainTimes shows the XC services heading that way as passing through Barnwood Junction approx 5 minutes after departing Cheltenham Spa. So I think that might be why it's being allowed. Very interesting.
 

The exile

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I would guess this is a bit of rail-routing history dating from before the closure of Gloucester Eastgate (1975). As this was a through station, very little passenger traffic would have passed over what is now the main line avoiding both Gloucester stations. In those days "via Gloucester" would have been just as clear as "via Cheltenham" and I suspect no-one has ever bothered to change it.

The question is - would "via Gloucester" also permit travel via Severn Tunnel Junction on the rare occasions that an XC Birmingham - Cardiff stops there?
 

142094

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Not true. There may be an easement. I'm sure that's in more than 1% of cases.

Well, take 99% to mean the vast majority, although there will be specific cases where you don't have to travel Via a station, or where sometimes you can travel via a station when the ticket says NOT.
 

Paul Kelly

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I would guess this is a bit of rail-routing history dating from before the closure of Gloucester Eastgate (1975). As this was a through station, very little passenger traffic would have passed over what is now the main line avoiding both Gloucester stations. In those days "via Gloucester" would have been just as clear as "via Cheltenham" and I suspect no-one has ever bothered to change it.

I think the way the hack to work around it is in the Master Station Name file is also equally interesting. These days to fix something like this ATOC would probably issue a new routeing guide easement "Journeys via Gloucester may travel via Cheltenham Spa" or something similar. I think it might be possible this "Barnwood Junction being part of Gloucester station" hack may go back to the days of British Rail's CATE telephone enquiry system in the 1980s (where the MSN file originates from).
 

yorkie

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Bear in mind there used to be a 'Gloucester Group' for routeing purposes. There is some debate as to whether "Route <place>" applies to the station group or the individual station of that name (or stations in the group, if appropriate). If it previously applied to Gloucester Group (which included Cheltenham Spa) then that could explain it. Gloucester Group no longer exists as it was abolished.

But maybe not, as when RSP were asked what "Route: Birmingham" meant a couple of years ago, they said it meant Birmingham Stations, rather than Birmingham Group. However it is unclear if that was ever defined anywhere or if they just made a decision at that time.

The question is - would "via Gloucester" also permit travel via Severn Tunnel Junction on the rare occasions that an XC Birmingham - Cardiff stops there?
If that's a permitted route, yes.
 

LexyBoy

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I always thought it odd that Gloucester is seperate from the main line on the routeing maps, rather than being a point with tired lines diverging. Compare Didcot, where a train taking the avoiding line would be considered as passing through Didcot by the maps.
 

Paul Kelly

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Bear in mind there used to be a 'Gloucester Group' for routeing purposes. There is some debate as to whether "Route <place>" applies to the station group or the individual station of that name (or stations in the group, if appropriate). If it previously applied to Gloucester Group
Very interesting too. I was looking for a Gloucester Group, since the definition of "Route Via Gloucester" in the electronic routeing guide contains a record specifying it applies to a routeing guide group rather than an individual station. But the same data didn't show Gloucester as belonging to any group!
 
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