Monday 15 July 2013

London, Saturday July 6th : "Cool" or "Hot"? [1]

Several challenges can be undertaken by the adventurous or just plain irresponsible. Running the bulls at Pamplona ...
... bog snorkelling across Dartmoor ...
... or memorising π (pi) to 100 decimal places.


These are all challenges not, as yet, undertaken by fbb. But their danger, their physical or intellectual perspicacity and their pure exhilaration pale into insignificance when compared with sorting out UK rail fares.

It is Saturday 6th July! The fbbs are both taking the train London-wards.

Mrs fbb was off to a prayer and bible study day at Wimbledon, so a day return was the obvious answer. All fares quoted are after the old codgers card deduction.
On Saturdays and Sundays, "selected off-peak" is translated as "all" but you have to be clever to know that! But what is this? A single at £16.15 ...
... looks a little more promising. But will the return be reduced a well? Yippee, £16.15 as well. Total £32.30, a mall saving of £2.70. Make a note of that and be ready at the ticket office.

Once he had said a fond farewell to "The Mrs", fbb would continue to the Metropolis to begin his planned jolly for the day, returning thence to join the good lady wife for a togetherness return journey.

And it was twice £16.15 all the way to Waterloo and back.
An even bigger saving, then; £5.80.

But, belay that order Mister. There are complications. fbb was intending to do a goodly chunk of bus travel and that would be FREE with his oap card. But then what happens if he needs to catch an Undergound train having been delayed bus-wise? Now that's a minimum of £4 a journey.
Whereas a one day travelcard is only £2.75 more than a super off-peak return; less than one emergency tube fare. Or fbb could buy a £32.30 double single and buy a one day travelcard if he needed it.

Then there was the London Victoria mystery.
Had fbb decided to go into London Victoria instead, a further raft of choices is revealed. The off peak day return is not valid via the longer route, but a different set of singles (cheap, possibly) is! That's because the slower journey is via Waterloo and the Underground whereas the faster journey is via Basingstoke and Clapham Junction; thus all the way on "big" trains, so Boris the Blue doesn't need his "pound of flesh" for his little tube trains.

Fortunately fbb went to Axminster the day before travel and saught solace from the nice Southwest Trains ticket barista.

It transpires that the twice £16.15 option had vanished into the ether, being tickets "on allocation". There is nothing obvious on the web site to tell you this. Because fbb had failed to book early enough the cheap option was now more expensive than the off peak day return. Had fbb booked far enough in advance his cheapo options would have been more cheapo.
But the advance-ness is no guarantee of satisfaction cheapo-style. One week later (27th) almost all the £13.55 options had vanished. Wotta lotta ry.

But, in the end, the stress and confusion was all pointless as the best option was the "normal" option; off peak day returns all round with travelcard add-on for fbb.

But just look at the list of Standard (no first class considered) fares once again:-
The confuser has delivered this list in response to an enquiry for a day return on a Saturday. Only the top two options are sensible. It is unlikely that anyone would buy (or any ticket office would sell, surely?) a £75 Anytime day return on a Saturday or a Sunday.

So why does the infernal machine churn out these irrelevances? Why can't we simply have the only fares that apply under the search criteria?

Or are the Railways secretly hoping that poor confused old aged pensioners will pay more than they need?

Surely not?

Let us rest our tortured souls and enjoy Axminster in the past; a spam-can and its  train makes its way to Exeter, whist the dieselised Lyme Regis branch train waits for connecting passengers.
Sweet : but it was even sweeter when the branch train was hauled by an Adams "radial" tank.

Tomorrow, fbb begins his London day in earnest.
A little ferroequinological puzzle
Talking of π (pi) to 100 decimal places; where might you find all these numbers and letters?


 Answer tomorrow!
 Next Rail Blog : Tuesday 16th July 

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