Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

1st June 2011

Posted by at 8.25pm | In the News | 1 response

There’s just over a year to go before the world’s elite athletes descend on the nation’s capital for a high-spirited fortnight of skill, sportsmanship and urine tests. Yes, the 2012 Olympics will soon be here!

I am not a big sports fan, but when tickets went on sale I was swept up in the patriotic fervour. What an amazing chance to be part of something special, an event that is held in this country once in a lifetime. I jumped on to the official London 2012 web site and applied for tickets.

In fact I went a bit crazy applying for tickets, and ended up requesting £630 worth. I was worried that this might be a bit much to put on my Visa card, but you have to speculate to accumulate, don’t you?

As it turned out my debt-related fears were groundless. No, I haven’t suddenly won the lottery or received an inheritance from a distant relative who snuffed it. It’s more simple than that: the deadline for payments to be taken from my account came and went yesterday and the “pending transactions” section of my credit card online statement remains stubbornly at zero. I think it’s time to face facts: I failed to get a single ticket allocated to me in the ballot.

If it’s any consolation (and it isn’t), I’m not alone — 250,000 fellow punters have been similarly disappointed.

It is a little bit unfair that some people could afford to splash out and risk thousands of pounds, while lots more (like me) had to be more conservative with our application, reducing our chances of winning.

Anyone who has sat clicking the Refresh button on a ticket web site while waiting for in-demand concert tickets to go on sale will understand why the Games organisers have done it this way. However, I still can’t help but feel a bit miffed. In fact, I’m going to write a letter of complaint.

Dear Lord Coe,

— No, actually that’s too formal, let’s try again…

Dear Sebby,

I wish to express my disappointment that I have not been allocated any tickets for the London 2012 Olympics. I now feel totally disenfranchised from what is supposed to be a special event that will bind the country together.

I have a long-standing interest in Men’s Diving, and it is absolutely not because I want to see Matthew Mitcham wet and Speedo-clad, honest.

Yours truly,
Robert x

2nd September 2010

Normally I like it via the back door, but THIS…
Posted by at 8.46pm | Trains | 1 response

Oh, Merseyrail — you lavish me with umbrellas and discounted coffees, and then you go and do something to dispel the warm fuzzies.

Read the rest of this post »

22nd May 2009

Holly Advance
Posted by at 6.31pm | Trains | No responses

Via BBC News:-

It is “unacceptable” that low-cost rail fares are easily available only to those with internet access, MPs say.

That’s not quite true: most Advance fares can be booked by phone or in person at a station ticket office (if they have access to the computerised ticket booking system, which most do these days).

However, this doesn’t change the fact that Advance fares are the most frustrating aspect of British rail travel. Availability is always something of a lottery: my experience is that for simple trips it’s fine, but as soon as the journey involves a change of train (and especially if more than one train company is involved) the advance tickets become hard to find. Then you have the choice of booking the more expensive “walk-up” ticket or spending an extra hour or so faffing around on the online booking engines, splitting your journey into shorter legs to see if tickets are available that way.

It’s a shame that the railway doesn’t make more of its the big advantage it has over internal flights (not having to book ahead), but as long as the money keeps rolling in, nothing is going to be done 🙁

1st February 2009

To the people in front of me at South Parkway ticket office
Posted by at 2.55pm | Trains | No responses

It’s nice that you’re availing yourself of Merseyrail’s shiny new ticket office computer system which can easily book tickets and reserve seats for any journey on the National Rail network.

But really, I needed an Off-Peak Return to Widnes and my train was due in 5 minutes. Why did you have to hold up the queue by enquiring about Advance tickets to Gunnersbury(!) at that specific time on Sunday morning?

25th April 2008

Fares Fair
Posted by at 1.21pm | Trains | No responses

The first phase of the long-awaited National Rail Fares Simplification starts at the end of May. The existing myriad layers of Advance Purchase fares will be swept away, replaced by a common AP ticket with the same terms and conditions across all train companies. Say goodbye to Student Getaway, Firstminute, SuperAdvance, Value Advance, Apex, Central Value and the rest… say hello to “Advance”.

The second phase will be later this year, when the walk-up ticket range is renamed. The unrestricted Open tickets become “Anytime” while Savers and Cheap Day tickets become “Off-Peak”. This should clarify matters and end the (perfectly understandable) confusion of people about which ticket is appropriate for their journey. National Rail claim that no fares will increase as a result of this renaming… they’re waiting until the fare changes in January for that.

I’m just hoping that Virgin Trains retain the existing concession where Railcard holders can use Savers on any train without time restriction. Not that it matters too much to me as I cannot renew my Y-P card after this year (too old!)

Virgin could also try making their peak fares less eye-wateringly expensive (some hope).

2nd January 2008

The Point of No Open Return
Posted by at 1.21pm | In the News, Trains | No responses

Regular readers (bless you, both) will know that I’m quite a fan of the railways. I think that a properly-managed rail network has an important part to play in this country’s transport network and I’m supportive of any initiative to improve it. I even use the trains for… gasp! Non-commuting purposes. Sometimes even getting on trains just for the hell of it.

But after reading three separate examples of the UK rail industry shooting itself in the foot, I wonder if soon I might be the only one left.