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Initial problem

Hi there

If you use the East Coast ticket machines at King's Cross station to buy an off-peak return from London to Cambridge, you get some very confusing validity instructions:

"Return. Valid on trains departing from 0930 Mondays to Fridays. Not valid on trains timed to depart before 1000 Mondays to Fridays. Valid for travel before 0645 and between 0816 and 1558 inc. also valid on or after 1746. Return valid on any service timed to arrive on or after 1005."

You can see a photo of the instructions here:

Could these be clarified?

Anna PS

  • By Anna Smith on 22 Jul 2011
  • Sent to East Coast on 15 Aug 2011
  • 1 Myf Nixon added an update close 09:50 27 Jul 2011

    Hey Anna, did you get any reply to this? You surely can't be the only one to have ever been confused by it, and I'm kind of looking forward to hearing the answer.

    Myf, FixMyTransport

  • 2 Anna Smith added an update close 10:21 27 Jul 2011

    Not yet... yes, me too!

  • 3 James Taylor added an update close 17:17 27 Jul 2011

    The machine is operated by East Coast - you should take the query up with them rather than Network Rail, whom do not sell rail tickets at all and merely manage physical station and track infrastructure.

  • 4 Anna Smith added an update close 17:27 27 Jul 2011

    Thanks @James - please could a FixMyTransport admin forward this on to East Coast, or let me know how I can do that?

  • 5 Tom Hughes added an update close 10:26 10 Aug 2011

    It looks like, at least in part, the machine doesn't know how to resolve the overlapping constraints of the Network Railcard and the off-peak ticket.

    The "Not valid on trains timed to depart before 1000 Mondays to Fridays" comes from the railcard, and I suspect everything after that is restrictions on the basic ticket. No idea where the first bit about trains departing before 0930 comes from though...

  • 6 Anna Smith added an update close 11:53 31 Aug 2011

    East Coast replied on 23rd August:

    "I am sorry that the ticket details printed on your tickets were confusing.

    To clarify, your northbound train (i.e. your outward journey to Cambridge) must depart before 0645, between 0759 and 1558 inclusive & at or after 1746. Your southbound journey (i.e. your return journey to King’s Cross) must be scheduled to arrive at or after 1008.

    I hope this helps to clarify the matter, however if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me."

    I replied to them the same day:

    "As per my email, these details weren't printed on my tickets - they
    were shown on the ticket machine.

    And I was really reporting them because I thought other passengers
    were likely to be confused by them, and you might want to fix the
    machine, so that people don't get confused and then penalty-fared.

    Do you think you'll be able to fix the machine?"

    No response yet - will post it here if I get one.

  • 7 Paul Hollinghurst added an update close 18:49 09 Sep 2011

    Over the years I have reported large numbers of cases of incorrect validity information being published (mainly in timetable booklets and on web sites; sadly there must be hundreds of mistakes as the fares system is so complex). In not a single case has the operator said they will correct the information without me going back to them and prompting them. Even then it can be hard work.

    For web sites I have found that report to the Advertising Standards Authority will get things sorted out relatively quickly (the ASA now handle web sites). However ticket machines may come under trading standards (I am not sure), but hopefully East Coast will offer to sort your problem out anyway.

    You have been fortunate that they have admitted the rules are wrong as I often find customer services often blindly believe what is published and will quote imaginative but incorrect interpretations of the rules to back this up. So every issue goes through several steps – [1] describe the problem [2] they deny anything is wrong [3] redescribe the problem backed up with extra information [4] they admit it is wrong but don’t offer to correct it [5] tell them to fix it [6] they say they will log the problem but nothing happens [7] report it to a regulator [8] they fix it. It is extremely tedious to get a problem fixed so it is not suprising that there are so many errors.

    Here is another example where First Capital Connect say you cannot travel with Off-Peak tickets on certain services, but this is only true for tickets wholly within the First Capital Connect area and not for longer distance tickets.
    They have so far refused to do anything about this (to be honest I have lost track of why not).

    London Midland had a very similar issue:
    but the ASA arranged for this to be corrected.

    These issues predate ‘FixMyTransport’ but in future I would try pursuing these types of issue through this.

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