Should you cancel your annual season ticket?

This is a very ‘individual circumstances’ question, and one that you’re going to need to do a little research on based on when you purchased your ticket, and how much you will personally get back.

So some basics first.

A weekly/monthly/annual season ticket will give you saving over the cost of daily tickets but any refund will be calculated based on the ‘value used’. Essentially the discounted/saving bit of your season ticket comes at the end of the period.

To get a refund you need to have at least:

  • 3 days left – Weekly Season Ticket
  • 7 days left – Monthly Season Ticket
  • 3 months left – Annual Season Ticket.

If you have any less time that the above, you will get no refund on your ticket.

There is an admin fee to pay (which is £10 for paper season tickets and £5 for ‘Key’ season tickets).

You can apply for your season ticket refund at a station ticket office of the rail company you purchased it from, or with the Key Card you can do it online in your (Southern / Thameslink) website account. In all cases, the refund will go back onto the payment method you used.

Those with a Key Card can view the refund they will receive online before requesting it.

If you purchased your season ticket through a work scheme you will need to contact your scheme owner to determine what is possible. It’s likely that the season ticket may not have come from Southern/Thameslink but another train operator local to your company’s HQ and they would be the ones that would need to action any refund.

What else can you do?

If you have less than three months left on an annual season ticket, or will only receive a very small refund if cancelling it (after the fee) then there is another approach.

You are permitted to make a permanent change the journey that your season ticket is for, and if that journey is cheaper you receive a refund. There is no fee to pay.

For example, if you have an Annual Season ticket from Redhill to ‘London Terminals’ you could change that route to be from Redhill to Reigate instead, and the difference in the season ticket price will be refunded to you.

There is a suggestion that you can do it more than once with a season ticket (so move it back to our normal route after things return to normal).

This method might get you some money back. This is called a ‘Changeover’ and here’s the official guidance from National Rail.

“If you move house, change your place of work or wish to change the class of travel, you may apply to exchange any Season Ticket with at least 7 days remaining, for one with the same expiry date for your new journey or class. This is called a changeover.

A changeover may be applied for at the rail ticket office where the original ticket was issued or at any station relevant to the new journey. The new journey Season Ticket is a continuous renewal and it must start on the day following surrender of the original ticket. Any additional charge or refund will be based on the ticket prices when the original Season Ticket was bought, pro rata to the periods before and after the changeover.

No administration charge is made. Any ticket that has already been exchanged in this way may be accepted for further exchanges if necessary.”

Is any of this worth doing?

It hugely depends on the length of your season ticket, and when you purchased it. Everyone’s circumstances are different…

So some high-level things to consider before jumping for a refund:

Calculate how many days you would potentially be travelling between now and the end of your season ticket.

There’s a handy website here https://www.work-day.co.uk/ that helps you calculate the number of working days in a year…Set the ‘From’ date to today, and the to date as the end of your season ticket.

This will get you a calculation of working days (bank holidays and weekends removed) which for most is how many days you’d travel in that time.

Also, remove any planned annual leave that you would be taking in that period. Or if you normally would be working from home one day a week remove those too.

You can then research your ‘cost to travel’ if you cancel your season ticket, either by buying daily/using contactless/or getting a new season ticket.

Keep in mind that a new season ticket will be higher than the one you surrender. To help here look at the price of a journey on ‘Contactless/Oyster’ if applicable or a new season ticket.

The challenging part is working out how long you may be ‘working from home’. And there’s no clear view on how long this will take to pass. 4 Weeks, 12 Weeks, you’ll need to make your own view.

Important – This article does not contain any advice, and is simply here to explain what your options are, to help you make an informed decision.

Changes to Parking at Earlswood & Salfords Station

Earlswood Station

Rail passengers and local residents might not welcome this news, but GTR has advised us that parking charges are to introduced at both Earlswood and Salfrods Station.

The charges to be introduced at the end of March will apply Monday to Friday between the hours of 4 am and 5 pm. Evenings and weekends will remain free.

GTR said that the money raised from parking charges will support the management and maintenance of the carpark and will help towards investing in parking on the network.

Initially, it was stated the charge to park for a day would be £9.10 at both Earlswood and Salfords. With payment being possible through an app, the ticket machine at the station, or by phone.

This figure was successfully challenged by the RRDRUA and subsequently reduced for Earlswood to £8.30. The price was benchmarked against Horley station – which seemed extremely peculiar given that Merstham/Redhill/Reigate are all significantly closer and also cheaper!

  • Redhill Station – All day = £7.15
  • Merstham Station – All day = £6.60
  • Reigate Station – All day = £5.30

Sadly there was no movement on pricing at Salfrods.

The news comes as both a positive and a negative for users of these stations.

The change from free to paid parking spaces will, of course, be a blow to passengers travelling from these stations who arrive by car. And will only increase the amount of rail travellers parking on local roads in Earlswood where there are no parking restrictions or charges. Around Salfrods residents actions have already resulted in streets near the station being covered in double yellow lines – preventing commuters parking but also residents from using on-street locations outside their homes.

Residents near both of these stations tend to leave cars in the station spaces – something you can spot on a cold winters morning as cars parked at the station have been there all night and are covered in frost. The introduction of parking charges will likely (assuming the parking is enforced) increase the chances of being able to get a parking space at the station.

If you have no choice but to drive to Earlswood or Salfords to park before catching a train – while prices have now been introduced the chances of finding a space will have increased.

Unfortunately, parking provisions for stations in our area are wholely inadequate and overpriced in general. Redhill station is now often full before the majority of peak services have run – and unless you buy one of the limited ‘premium’ parking season tickets, your space is not guaranteed.

If you have to drive to the station and park before catching a train, we don’t recommend parking in an official station carpark. And not to purchase a parking season ticket for the station – as you may end up paying twice – with no guarantee of a space.

The best option is Gloucester Road carpark. Charging is applicable between 8 am and 6 pm with all-day parking costing £6 (which is considerably cheaper than Redhill/Earlswood/Salfords station. At just a 7min walk from the station, it is the best option.

Reigate platform 3 – Mythbusting

Network Rail has launched a consultation about adding a 3rd platform to Reigate Station.

While the consultation doesn’t open until the 24th February, they have started promoting it through leaflets, posters, and listing several public meetings where you can meet Network Rail staff, see the plans, and ask questions.

There were some comments on a local parent network Facebook group about the impact of Platform 3 at Reigate and while we posted there also we wanted to post the comments here for a broader audience to see them.

So first off some facts.

At the moment it is just a consultation by Network Rail and opens for feedback on the 24th February. In all reality, if it goes ahead, this new platform won’t likely appear for 2-3 years at the very earliest!

In May 2018 Reigate lost it’s direct trains to London Bridge and instead, a frustrating solution of joining 2x four coach trains at Redhill replaced it. Most Reigate passengers (based on passenger data at the time) want to go to London Bridge so have to change.

The Earlswood/Salfords Victoria train service was significantly slowed down as it has to sit at Redhill for about 10mins to wait for the Reigate half and the attachment. Inevitably things go wrong:

– One portion of the train could go missing (fault/driver not available/issue somewhere on the line)

– The connection (or separation) might not work.

– When things go wrong four coach trains run into London which is normally full by Coulsdon South!

– In the off-peak, these services are timetabled to run as a four coach train between Reigate and Victoria only.

So what’s proposed here.

The 3rd platform at Reigate to allow a Thameslink train to pull into Reigate, terminate and then go back. It is returning a London Bridge Service for Reigate and ads resilience to the network. When issues occur on the network, it gives GTR somewhere to turn back trains off the Brighton Mainline if there’s a problem further down the line.

It will likely mean that Reigate will lose it’s Victoria Service. But you will be one station away from a change at Redhill that will be much more reliable.

What does it mean for Earlswood and Salfords?

No timetable changes have been drawn up yet as an impact of this new platform as it’s only in the consultation stage.

GTR has said that there will be NO changes to the PEAK – So trains to London Bridge and Victoria as they are now. The morning trains into London will still run, and you’ll get back again in the evening. During the day it’s likely that the service will be a Victoria Service.

It also means that it’s highly likely that more trains will be available to these stations as there will no longer be a short four coach Victoria train trundling through and waiting at Redhill blocking a platform. So Longer trains coming up and potentially more destinations. Suggestions for getting Horsham Trains back through Merstham/Redhill/Earlswood/Salfords etc. giving local access to stations south (perhaps not surprisingly commuters don’t all go to London!)

A rumour suggests Earlswood will only get 1 train per hour

There has been no comment from GTR about reducing Thameslink trains to 1 per hour in the peak at Earlswood/Salfrods. 

There is no timetable for what the train services will look like after Regiate platform three has been developed – and any activity would likely go through a consultation with stakeholders and rail passengers.

The RRDRUA has had direct conversations with the timetable team who told us at the meeting ‘no peak changes’ at Earlswood!)

We fully support Reigate Platform 3 as it will serve to benefit rail users from all of our local stations.

Rebuilding the station at Gatwick

As a side note while work is carried out at Gatwick Station to rebuild the platforms and the concourse – changes in the May 2020 timetable suggest that Earlswood and Salfrods will only be served by one train per hour on Sundays.

At the RRDRUA we’re challenging this with GTR – with our view that the service level at this station should not reduce while the works take place.

Important information for 2019 Season Ticket pricing

Season Ticket Prices 2019

Some very important information for season ticket pricing on the Redhill Route.

If you have the ability to renew your season ticket before the 2019 Pricing comes into place we strongly recommend you do. With the exception of one set of fares everything has gone up for 2019 on the 2 January.

Passengers travelling from Horley who would purchase an annual season ticket to ‘London Thameslink (no tube)’ or ‘London Zones 1-6 (any permitted) will see a reduction in their fare. It may no longer be cheaper to buy your annual ticket from Gatwick so please check.

From various stations if your ticket includes a London underground travel card it may have stayed the  same.

Southern /Thameslink / Gatwick have produced posters and leaflets that are available in ticket offices – These include weekly, monthly, and annual prices for 2019. We also have digital copies below.

We haven’t been provided with a version of the above for Nutfield of Godstone. You can check your own personal journey and season ticket on the National Rail Enquiries website.

The promised reductions in fairs to tackle the Redhill Hump appear not to be present, and we are not letting it go either. We’ll have more on that shortly.

An update from Parliament

Essentially there are 4 key issues currently impacting travel on the trains in our area currently:

  • Our ‘unfair’ fares that create the ‘Redhill Hump’ and lack of availability of Oyster/Contactless at Reigate.
  • Issues with infrastructure (Regiate’s platform can’t take the Thameslink Trains, and Stoates Nest Junction restricts the number of trains that can cross it.
  • No ‘industry compensation’ for Reigate/Nutfield
  • Trains missing form the May 2018 timetable (still)

While it hasn’t all been in the public domain we’ve been working with Crispin Blunt our local MP and RRDRUA President on many of the issues above for some time. Frustratingly when the RRDRUA makes progress with a transport minister their inevitably loose their job and it all starts again.

Continually promised action in meetings with ministers and the DFT (many of which RRDRUA committee members have attended over the years) Crispin has like us reached the limits of his frustration. Acting on this he secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons raise our issues.

Jo Johnson then had to address the issues raised by Crispin, which are a matter of record in the house.

The full transcript of the debate can be read here.
And you can watch the snippet from the House of Commons here.

In brief summary:

  • Fares – Whilst not suggesting Oyster zones would happen, and instead suggesting modern ticketing with pay as your go or smart card payment is the future – he did confirm that the ‘Redhill Hump’ would be addressed before the end of the current GTR contract. And this would start in January. We have no further detail of this yet – but it’s a big win. Either by reduction or fare freezing our fares will be brought in line with those around us.
  • Reigate Platform 3 – This has been included in the scope of the project or the Brighton Mainline upgrade. Whilst it won’t happen over night, it’s on the books for consideration – a new longer platform at Reigate would allow the return of direct London Bridge services via Thameslink.
  • Industry Compensation – No movement on this what so ever. Reigate/Tonbridge line passengers. Or those that purchased Dorking tickets are excluded, and are still excluded.
  • The May 2018 Timetable – Jo Johnson said that in December 18 more trains will be added to our services through Redhill/Merstham. And we assume some of these will also stop at stations south of Redhill too. Conveniently there are 18 trains currently missing form our weekday timetable. Weekends are of course still very much missing in action.

We’ve made some big progress today with big thanks to Crispin Blunt MP for securing the debate and representing our issues.

If you have any comments or questions please let us know.

Finally apologies if you made it to Westminster for the debate at 5pm. Whilst Parliament has a set start time – all business follows the last business. And an earlier debate was short a number of speakers which brought us forwards – we had little notice this would happen.

Crispin Blunt to challenge Chris Grayling in Parliament 18/10/2018

Following repeated correspondence over the summer with Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport Crispin Blunt had a meeting with the Rail Minister earlier this week to address a series of issues particular to the Reigate and Redhill District rail users, in addition to the wider issues of the generally appalling service standards on the line.

These included timetabling, fares, compensation, platform investment, and access to Oyster, among others. Some of these issues have been being discussed in detail with previous Rail Ministers for over 4 years to no avail. This meeting produced nothing that could be reported to rail users except that the DfT remained resolute that no compensation would be available to Reigate station users following the 2018 summer timetable debacle. The irony that it was the removal of the London Bridge service from Reigate in those timetable changes that forced Reigate users to use the failing Thameslink services from Redhill, and yet are ineligible for compensation, appeared to be entirely lost on the Minister and his officials.

In response to this, Crispin Blunt has successfully applied for a short debate in the House of Commons Chamber next Thursday 18th October at 5pm. This will enable him to publicly make the case for at least some resolution of the issues particular to our area. In reply the Rail Minister will have the opportunity to publicly explain whether he has been able to find any amelioration or even a real prospect of improvement in the local service, from which his department receives all the fare income.

The minister’s reply on behalf of the Transport Secretary will condition whether Crispin as both MP for Reigate and President of the Rail Users Association will be able to continue to express confidence Chris Grayling management of the Department for Transport.

All RRDRUA members are invited and indeed encouraged to be present in the viewing gallery, House of Commons, to support Crispin in his efforts to make our voice heard and to meet together afterwards in Westminster Hall to have a brief post debate discussion on what we have heard from the DfT. Please allow 30 mins to get through HoC security – no need for a ticket, just some identity, for the gallery. Crispin would be pleased to see the passengers he is working for and account directly to them on Thursday.

Details on how to attend

Instructions for those coming to see Crispin in the House of Commons on Thursday 10 October 2018.

The debate is currently scheduled for 5pm but please arrive in plenty of time to clear security.

Please can RRDRUA attendees to enter through the Cromwell Green entrance (see attached map) and make their way to Central Lobby via the main Visitor’s entrance, allowing at least 30 minutes to clear security.

Then, they should ask to be directed to the Admission Order Office where you gain entry to the public gallery. The office is located just off Central Lobby behind the statue of William Gladstone.

Gareth Owen will be in the gallery to arrange the meeting with Crispin in Westminster hall afterwards.

You do not always need it, but it may be useful to take a driving license or other picture ID.

After an Abysmal first week Thameslink completely collapses on Saturday

We knew there was going to be teething issues in the first few weeks, but last week was terrible for regular commuters in our area:

  • Over crowded trains they weren’t able to board (both in the morning and evening peak). Including running only 8 car trains through London Bridge at 17:21 and 17:51 which were already full by the time they got to London Bridge.
  • Trains terminating at East Croydon and being emptied of passengers as the driver hadn’t been trained on the route.

Not to mention plenty of late trains and drivers and onboard supervisors advising that the train is held at a red signal as the line ahead is congested.

The Peak evening Thameslink service (looking at trains between 16:30 and 19:01) ran with a 30% cancellation rate!

If you add to this the number of trains later than 15 mins (which are eligible for Delay Repay) the number of disrupted trains climbs to 57%.

Complete collapse of service on Saturday

There’s so much more we could say about the first week, but we need to turn our attention to Saturday, and the complete collapse of Thameslink south of London with no communication from Thameslink to passengers what so ever.

At time of publishing 100% of Thameslink trains that would call in the Redhill area have been cancelled.

  • Horley, Salfords, Earlswood have had no trains to London.
  • Redhill has diverted South Eastern services running though to Charing Cross.
  • Reigate, Redhill, Merstham have a short Victoria service (4 coaches only).
  • The Horsham to London Bridge service is running only between Horsham and Redhill it appears.

And according to the Association of British Commuters on twitter it was known it was going to happen. As railway workers were advised as early as 13:01 on Friday afternoon.

This is completely unacceptable. The weekday commute is not the only use of the railway. Many people also work on the weekends, or at the Weekends travel for leisure, and everyone with an annual season ticket is entitled to.

As a rail users association we’ve asked Thameslink what has happened and why there has been no communication to customers. We have yet to see a response.

Over on twitter (at time of publication) there is no information as to why this is the case. When asked they replied with:

“Hi, these are unfortunately cancelled with the short term timetable amendments. My apologies for this. I’d recommend a difference[sic] route (i.e. Metrobus to Gatwick)”

The complete lack of communication is completely unacceptable! 

Note – Information on train running and punctuality checked on http://recenttraintimes.co.uk

How to check what the May 2018 Timetable changes mean for you

May Timetable Changes

You will have seen our commentary and submissions on the 2018 Timetable Consultation that has been run to deliver a new Timetable covering Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, and Thameslink.

All of these changes are wrapped up in what’s called RailPlan20/20 and specially in our area many of our Southern Rail trains will be changed to Thameslink.

The new timetable has been published electronically (although some trains notable GWR which run from Reading to Gatwick via Reigate/Redhill) and a few Thameslink trains are missing).

Rail Plan 20/20

Every train in the timetable will have moved. Your usual train will NO LONGER be at the usual time and your journey duration will be different! 

To find out how your own personal journey will be impacted here’s what you can do to take a look right now.

1.  Head to your favourite online journey planner (this could be National Rail or Southern Rail or any of the Apps that provide train data.

2. Select your usual Journey (such as Earlswood to London Victoria) and the time of day that you would normally travel.

3. Update the date of your journey to be the 21 May 2018 (the first day of the new timetable being in place)

Note, if you put in a specific time of the train you would normally get you may want to wind back 30 mins at-least. Many trains will be running slightly earlier than they are currently timetabled.

For example:

The 06.42 from Earlswood to London Victoria calling at
– Redhill 06.46
– Merstham 06.50
– Coulsdon South 06.55
– Purley 06.59
– Easy Croydon 07.05
– Clapham Junction 07.17
– London Victoria 07.29

Giving a journey time of 47 min

Will become the the 06.30 Earlswood to London Victoria calling at
– Redhill 06.34
– Merstham 06.49
– Coulsdon South 06.54
– Purley 06.58
– East Croydon 07.04
– Clapham Junction 07.14
– London Victoria 07.22

Giving a ‘new an improved’ journey time of 52 min.

Would love to know what this means to YOUR journey and the impact it will have on your specific personal circumstances in the comments below. Not just earlier starts or longer journeys, but impacts on nursery, the school run, your working day, or onward travel when you arrive at hour destination in London or further south down the line.

 

Welcome to Redhill, here’s why you’ll still be stuck at the station this weekend (again)

You will likely have heard about the issues at Redhill Station on Sunday 25 February – when thousands of passengers were left stuck trying to complete their onward journey to Gatwick and the south coast by a lack of Rail Replacement busses.

If you saw that (and our response to it last weekend) and feel like you were missing out by not being involved your luck is in, as it looks like it will be a very similar story this weekend when the same engineering works take place.

As a local rail users association we wrote to Southern Rail in response to their plans before the issues happened, and we’ve been speaking to them again since in a bid to secure a better service over the next two weekends when the same line closure is happening.

The good news – they’ve been listening to us

The bad news – they’ve not really doing anything to solve the problem at Redhill on the trains although they’re going to give running busses a better go.

Our point of view

On the face of it this weekend they’ll be doing what they should have been doing last weekend on the bus front. However there simply won’t be enough trains.

Passengers at Merstham and Coulsdon South were unable to board services  last Sunday as they were full. The issue isn’t really being dealt with. All that’s been added to the Redhill route is the 4 extra coaches on the Victoria – Tonbridge (via Redhill) route.

The capacity issue is made worse as everyone from London Bridge will be turning up at East Croydon to board these services too – as the Thameslink trains south will not be running at all.

There should be more trains per hour provided to cope with the passenger demand in both directions.

Oh and not to mention Brighton at home against Arsenal this weekend.

So here’s the detail (and they have made some positive steps)

Travelling to Gatwick Airport or further south

If you need to get to Gatwick on Sunday 4 March you have several options, and most of them involve not using Redhill at all.

– An additional hourly service will run from Victoria to Horsham (via Dorking) meaning you can get to Gatwick on that – the train takes a big loop through Dorking down to Horsham, Three Bridges, and then Gatwick. It’ll be a 10 or 12 car train!
– You can also get one of the 2 trains per hour to East Grinstead from Victoria, and then transfer to a bus to Gatwick Airport.

In summary all your options are:

– 3 trains per hour Redhill – Victoria
– 1 train per hour Tonbridge – Victoria via Redhill
– 1 train per hour Gatwick Airport – Victoria via Horsham/Three Bridges
– 2 trains per hour East Grinstead – Victoria (with a bus link to Gatwick Airport)
– Buses between Gatwick Airport – East Grinstead
– Buses between Redhill – Gatwick Airport – Three Bridges

The Tonbridge train will now be 8 coaches instead of the 4 that it was last weekend. The Victoria to Redhill trains will be 12 coaches again.

Southern also tell us that they have extra standby busses to support the demand if needed, and some of the busses will run direct from Redhill to Gatwick Airport without pulling into all the other stations.

They also tell us that an ’emergency train’ will be sitting at Victoria in case it’s needed (why they don’t run it we don’t know).

At Redhill they tell us they’ll be doing a better job of making sure people and busses are managed effectively. There will be extra staff and bus controllers. The carpark at Redhill will be used to marshal people onto the busses with clear options for each destination.

 

The sneaky way Southern Rail avoid paying Delay Repay (UPDATED)

Delay Repay

Now other Train Operating Companies take note – this sneaky tactic by Southern Rail is one you should be copying. Here’s one simple move you can use against your paying commuters to remove all responsibility to get them to where they paid to be taken to – and avoid Delay Repay or the need to put on replacement busses.

This shocking tactic by Southern Rail is simple:

It all starts with some careful planning and the intention to not run  a train that is in the timetable. Simply don’t send the train…leaving the passengers standing on the platform or struggling to get home – but you have to do it in advance.

By doing it in advance you have the sneaky sneaky option of deleting the train from the timetable. Don’t report it as delayed or cancelled. Just delete it like it was never meant to be there.

This is brilliant, because people turn up at the time they would expect the train to run – you know because we plan ahead like the station announcements always tell us to do – some of the non season ticket holding customers even buy a ticket at the station. But when they turn up at the platform, the information board is simply blank. When they check their handy train time application – the train doesn’t appear to be showing in the timetable.

What’s more – you don’t have to provide any rail replacement busses, because the train was never in the timetable for the day.

And finally – when those angry commuters fill in the delay repay forms to claim compensation for the lack of train and the disruption of their journey – you can reject them – because you never timetabled it.

If you want to see this tactic in operation first hand – head to Reigate station in Surrey. Southern do it here quite a lot!

UPDATE

Southern Rail via Twitter now say that despite these trains being deleted from the timetable you can claim Delay Repay so we’re really like to hear from commuters who have tried and if you’ve been successful. Please let us know in the comments below.

However it’s still apparent that deleting the train from the timetable removes their responsibility to put on Rail Replacement busses.