When I travel to and from work I am an avid user of the advance purchase system. By determining precisely which train I will use I can save a significant amount and hey who doesn’t like saving money. I am a seasoned traveller and understand that, no matter what the mode of transport, it doesn’t always work. Recently my service from Derby has been retimed to leave half an hour earlier due to track work. I made the earlier service Friday and it made London in good time. I have a 6 minute metro ride and precisely 30 minutes to achieve it in so all is rosy, or so you would think.
I hit the metro to find a waiting hot and cold and just made the closing doors. We made good time until Moorgate where we were held for 5 minutes or so, still well within my window. Departing Moorgate we stopped at the first signal and I started to think that this was not going so well. We crawled up to the last signal before Liverpool Street and were advised we were being held while the detrained and reversed the service currently incumbent in the platform. This is the ultimate in frustration, I could have walked from Moorgate comfortably but I was now trapped.
I studied my watch, worked out the tide at home and the moon stage for the next week oh and checked the time. I was booked on the 18 minutes past departure, at 14 minutes I was sweating. At 18 minutes we were on the move, yes you guessed it, I missed the train by 2 minutes in the end. I know this because, as a seasoned traveller, I know to race to the gate just in case. The next train in the right direction leaves at 30 minutes past the hour but it’s an express and stops at only one station before the interchange that I need. I leapt on board the train and furiously checked the schedules on my phone. This service was indeed faster, leaving 12 minutes behind it would arrive at the interchange only 2 minutes behind my service.
The reason for sharing this was actually for what came next. I was prepared for the debate with the train guard for travelling on the wrong service. I did what we all do in this situation; I offered my ticket and said nothing. I am not sure if this is an English thing or a human thing but you just have to have a first ‘punt’ and see if you are caught out. The challenging look told me I would have to do more and I explained the joy of sitting outside of the station while my service departed. I passed the interrogation and my documents were returned.
At the next seat bay she questioned a lady who was apparently travelling on an off peak ticket, such tickets not being valid on this service. She explained to the guard that she had told the ticket office her plans and they had sold her that ticket. The guard advised that this was an off peak return and thus not available on peak services and so she would have to purchase an additional ticket. This was a woman, I guess, in her fifties who seemed totally with it so she was quite willing to pay the extra. On further inspection the guard realised that something else was amiss, the ticket was a day return issued for Tuesday.
Having explained that a day return had to be used in a day (go figure) she awaited an answer from the passenger. At this point I should establish that this service was to Norwich and clearly this lady was going all the way. She considered the situation and was certain that this was the ticket office’s fault after all she had explained her plans before purchasing the ticket. She handed over her money but as she waited for the ticket she still looked deep in concentration and then, it hit her. Oh I think that I know how he made the mistake, when I purchased the ticket I told him that I would be “returning in the day”. Apparently the passenger had meant that she would not be travelling late at night but she thought that the ticket office has “got the words round wrong to make day return”.
Having dealt with call centre staff in Norwich I am not sure that she wasn’t correct in her thinking although she did have a rather large suitcase for a day return. When you combined the proud look on her face with the comedic accent you had all of the evidence you needed to conclude that there was no fraud involved. She paid for her ticket and the guard went on her way. Perhaps it was only me that thought ‘they don’t let them out much’ but a quick scan of my fellow passengers made me think not.
In other news that I have to share I have completed the excellent Dream Doctor by Stephen King, it took a week but only because I was busy. If you are a fan of Stephen King, if you watched the Shining, if you have seen the iconic “Here’s Johnny” image or if you just like a good read then this is for you. The story follows Danny Torrance who was Johnny’s son in the Shining, it is not compulsory to have read the Shining first but there are references to show you just how much you remember. A fantastic book that shows Stephen King has lost none of his page turning ability thoroughly recommended.