HAPPY NEW YEAR- and greater justice for train travellers?

Its 2015 and at last the national media are catching up with reality and telling the world what we Woodbridge train users have been saying for a while:

You cannot get the cheapest and best fares for a journey from a self-service ticket machine. (Read the Telegraph’s take on it here) .

Am I cynical in thinking this omission isn’t accidental?  I’ve asked Abellio  Greater Anglia several times why they can’t sell the inexpensive and useful Day Ranger ticket from their machines -with no result whatsoever. (Indeed, I asked Andrew Goodrum, Abellio Customer Service Director -in person – about this on two different occasions when I met him, and got two differing answers. Neither one of which was “Yes, of course. We will naturally ensure the people  of Suffolk have access to Abellio’s cheapest and best means of getting around their network from the machines on our stations.”  You can argue that you can buy a ticket on the train if you get on at Woodbridge. Not if you get on at Ipswich. So, if the queues are endless, you lose your chance of the best ticket price. Which is very unfortunate – but not for Abellio.)

Nationally, the movers and shakers are belatedly becoming aware that their chums in the rail companies are fleecing ordinary travellers. Self-service machines — which are used to purchase almost a quarter of all tickets sold annually — offer wildly differing fares , adding as much as £100 to some journeys. I could tell you that. (In fact, I  seem to remember making the exact £100 point on Twitter, over the fare to Nottingham from Woodbridge, only last month) Now,  the country’s first rail fare code of conduct has established that from March, all self-service ticket machines will be required to tell customers if there is a potential cheaper fare available and direct them to a ticket office. What a terrible shame that Woodbridge no longer has a ticket office. We had one. It was in the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) controversially closed by Suffolk Coastal District Council two years ago. It is now a flower shop.

4 thoughts on “HAPPY NEW YEAR- and greater justice for train travellers?”

  1. Following my previous comments on the non-functioning machine, on 20 December I was booking a ticket online but when I came to the choices of where I wished to collect it, Woodbridge simply did not appear as an option. I had to choose Ipswich and might have meekly driven into Ipswich to collect my ticket or a range of other stupid options. Instead I took the plunge and went to the station with my documents anyway. As the machine at Woodbridge happened to be working, I tried my purchase code and lo-and-behold it produced my ticket. Hurrah! but an unnecessarily stressful start to the trip. When I went to USA, I just printed off my ticket at home; I didn’t have to go to Tampa, or even to Heathrow to collect it. Why can’t we make our ticket choices online and print them off at home – and help out non-computer users as we do for other transport (eg flying) events?

  2. Why am I not surprised that Abellio’s systems always seem to edge us towards paying more rather than less for our travel? Thank you for keeping this all in the pulic eye and for reminding us that what rail companies like least of all is bad publicity that might put their franchise at risk. Lets not be so British. If something is poor quality, or sharp practice, or borderline fraud, let’s complain our woolly British socks off about it!

  3. The day ranger tickets aren’t even available online as far as I can tell, thus no use your mobile phone and pickup from a machine if one is working.

    For many stations from Suffolk to London you can find it cheaper to split your train ticket in Manningtree, yet the ticket machines won’t allow that. However note that there are more restrictions particularly in the evening peak when you do this.

    It’s time to bring in Germany style ticket machine that allow the purchase of train tickets to or from any station on any date, as though you were booking online, even at rural stations. You can even buy tickets through to other countries. It can be done, however UK train companies expect people to screw the system and buy alternative fares that are effectively invalid, however random ticket checks should pick those things up, and it doesn’t seem to be an issue in Germany.

  4. Yes, I can confirm that the Day Rangers are not available online, Shaun – and very few people I talk to on Abellio Greater Anglia trains seem to have heard of them. Yet they are very useful, flexible tickets. I use one or two every week – often buying them in preference to a slightly cheaper return because they give me greater options ‘just in case’.

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