Robert Hampton

Rover 2006: Planning

Buying the ticket actually turned out to be relatively straightforward. I had read multiple stories on uk.railway of people attempting to buy rover tickets, only to find that the station staff were unable or unwilling to sell them. However, the staff at Moorfields station were very helpful.

The only hiccup I encountered revolved around the name of the ticket — it is described on the National Rail site and in the National Fares Manual as Freedom of the North West Rover, however it is on Merseyrail's ticket issuing system as simply “North West 7 Day Rover”. Because of this confusion over names, the ticket clerk was initially unable to find the ticket on the system (he was looking under “F”, rather than “N”). Something to bear in mind if purchasing this ticket in the future.

One of the joys of the Rover ticket is that you are almost completely unrestricted in the trains you can use within the area (subject to the 0845 time restriction). However, I planned each day of travelling in advance to ensure I wasn't stranded anywhere or forced to wait hours for a connection.

National Rail map

The internet has made planning a trip like this quite straightforward. Rail network maps are available online — very handy for seeing just how and where different lines intersect.

National Rail's online journey planner, although not perfect, will sometimes flag up a route that you hadn't thought of. It is also updated (usually) with details engineering works and other last-minute changes not included in the printed timetables.

Screenshot of National Rail planner

When travelling on a rover, it helps to break down your desired journey into small chunks (with the maps to hand to help identify convenient junction stations) because, for long journeys, the planner will try to apply the logic of the Routeing Guide to your journey, which doesn't apply when using a Rover.

PDF versions of rail companies' timetable leaflets (such as the Northern Rail timetable shown below) came in very useful.

Screenshot of Northern Rail timetable PDF

With the tools above, it was easy to pull together an itinerary which took in as much of the available network as possible.

I decided fairly early on to avoid overnight stays, meaning I would return to my home station (Aigburth) at the end of each days' travelling. I also tried to avoid travelling over the same sections of line more than once, although some overlap was unavoidable.

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