Another in the series about Train Travel.
Recently I spoke in Exeter on a Friday afternoon, then Cheltenham on
the Saturday morning. The ticketing arrangements turned out to be
I've always been told that return journeys can be broken. Outbound, no, but return, yes. I asked again when I bought my ticket, and I was told that if I bought a return to Exeter then I could break my journey overnight in Cheltenham. It is, after all, on the route.
So I bought a return to Exeter. Well, Newton Abbot, the station after Exeter.
The journey down on the Thursday afternoon/evening was absolutely trouble-free, and exactly on time. In short, everything was going well.
On the Friday afternoon the barriers at Exeter St. David's didn't let me through, because my ticket was for Newton Abbot, but that was OK. I took the opportunity to ask whether it really was going to be to break my journey overnight in Cheltenham. Andy, the customer service representative, checked the route, the ticket, the price, and confirmed that yes, it would be fine.
Again, the train to Cheltenham was exactly on time. Again, a trouble-free journey.
The talk on the Saturday morning went well, and I met with a friend for lunch. Pleasant morning, pleasant lunch, pleasant conversation, and a reasonably pleasant walk to the station.
Again, a train exactly on time, but this time I actually made a connection
in Birmingham New Street that was shorter than expected, and it was all
going so well.
Then the train manager asked when I'd started my journey. I explained, including the fact that I'd checked when I bought the ticket, and checked when I'd got on the train in Exeter.
But no. Apparently London Midland trains don't allow a journey to be broken overnight unless you catch the train the following morning.
So where did it all go wrong? Why was I given such wildly differing advice? What should I have done?
Well, I still have no answer to why I was given such different advice. In short, no one really seems to know. The train manager was really quite adament that their training is right, and one is not allowed to break a journey arbitrarily.
But I did work out what I should've done. I should've got a return to Cheltenham, and a separate return to Newton Abbot. And why?
Because it would've been cheaper. Yes. It's actually cheaper to get two returns to make the journey, rather than one.
It's the train.
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