Rail passenger charged £155 for getting off one stop early

28 September 2010


Wave goodbye to common sense everyone – there it goes now, on a train from Birmingham to Durham. This is a story that, to be frank, boils our piss – a tale of a rail passenger being ordered to pay £155 for getting off a train one stop BEFORE his designated departure station.

That passenger is Professor Martyn Evans, who works in the philosophy department at Durham University, although he’s probably still scratching his head about how this one works.

Professor Evans was recently travelling from Birmingham on an advance ticket that would take him back to Durham. But, as it was getting late, he decided to skip going back to work and got off the train one stop early, at Darlington, close to where he lives.

Which is where it all went batshit mental. When he couldn’t get through the ticket machine barrier because he had a Birmingham-Durham ticket, Darlington station staff told him he would have to pay another £155 to cover the cost of a ticket from Birmingham to Darlington. No, seriously – we’re doing everything we can not to punch the keyboard in its balls while we’re typing this.

Professor Evans signed a form agreeing to pay it later, but has since refused and East Coast (the rail company in question) have agreed to waive the charge on this occasion but have defended their right to apply the monstrous charge for a passenger who got LESS of the journey that he’d paid for.

A spokesman for East Coast (who lest we forget, are state-owned) said: "The terms and conditions of the Advanced Purchase First Class ticket - the ticket which Professor Evans had used for his journey - clearly state that breaking a journey en route, or starting from an intermediate station, is not permitted.”

Which begs the question – is ending a journey the same as breaking it? And even if it is, what is the rationale for train companies insisting that people stay on the rickety old shit-wagons for the entirety of their journey even if it isn’t convenient to the passenger? How is this any different from, say, legalised kidnap?

EDIT: We thought we'd pull our fingers out and find out what the cost discrepancy would be between travelling to Durham and getting off one stop early at Darlington. Looking a month ahead, a First Class Advance Single from Birmingham to Darlington on October 28th at 4.30pm costs £144.50. To travel from Birmingham to Durham would cost you £144.50. To travel further still, from Birmingham to Newcastle would cost you £144.50. Going all the way to Edinburgh from Birmingham on that same service would cost you... £57.50.

We're confused now.

TOPICS:   Travel


  • Matt
    'Rickety old shit wagons' - I laughed heartily at that. A ridiculous situation. Why does it matter to the train company that someone gets off before their stop? I honestly cannot think of a reason why it would affect them
  • Darren
    Its due to the fact that you have purchased an advanced ticket, and getting a god damn massive discount by doing so, so it is not a ticket you can enjoy. That is the whole point of advanced tickets. they are what they say and that's it. No Compromise. Its due to the fact that the prof would have had to buy a ticket for: Durham-Birmingham single and then a Birmingham-Darlington single to do the journey which would have more than likely cost more than the Durham-Birmingham return. Makes sense, but still sucks!
    • Andy D.
      @ Darren - With East Coast, two singles normally cost more than a return, so that probably wouldn't have been a viable option for the Prof. If they HAVE to charge something, why not pretend that he had actually made it to Durham and then charge him the price of a single from Durham back down to Darlington again (about a fiver)? You know, instead of being a pack of jobsworth wankers about it.
  • ohhai
    That and they do it to stop people travelling through a peak zone to get a ticket for the off peak location after and getting off in the peak zone, saving money
  • Mark
    Piss boiling incompetence you say?
  • Alexis
    "“The terms and conditions of the Advanced Purchase First Class ticket – the ticket which Professor Evans had used for his journey – clearly state that breaking a journey en route, or starting from an intermediate station, is not permitted.”" So they have admitted the passenger broke their contract (ie. terms and conditions), for which they would be entitled to actual losses incurred by the breach. In this case, zero. £155 is a clear contractual penalty and completely unenforceable.
  • none
    maybe he always gets off one stop earlier but their are not cheap deas to that station so he uses the further station to ghet the deal. I have done that before and it is in the conditions that you cant so thats about right.
  • Andy D.
    Apologists alert! For fuck's sake. Where are we as a nation when people are prepared to look at the Prof's story and say, "Yeah, that's fair enough. Charge the bloke £155" LOOK AT YOURSELVES!
  • Trevor G.
    "ADVANCED Purchase First Class ticket" ADVANCED ticket eh? Tell me, is there some kind of BASIC Purchase First Class ticket, which would have made life easier? Or do they perhaps mean ADVANCE (Without the 'D') For the same reason it always amused me when I see taxis with the 'Advanced Bookings Only' notice on the door.
  • maxtweenie
    Probably cost £155 for the ticket collector to open the barrier and let the Professor through.
  • MrRobin
    It isn't fair. Of course it's not fair. It's a ridiculous charge. However, it's not meant to be 'fair', it's there so that the rail companies make extra profit from the small print. But this concept is no different from RyanAir charging £20 per offline checkin or whatever it is now or mobile phone companies charging hideous amounts for usage whilst abroad.
  • toddy
    @Trevor Guillard "always amused me when I see" AMUSED ME, or do you perhaps mean AMUSES (with an S not a D) as what you typed was complete wank. Pedant
  • Fare D.
    I did the same trick as the Prof many a time. Travel from Edinburgh to Leicester via Birmingham using Cross Country would cost me in the region of £26 single if using one of the early afternoon trains. I preferred to jump off early and connect using a pre purchased single from Derby to Leicester. Nearly got caught out when I needed a cig and had to go outside the station. Knowing fine well the ticket might not be accepted, I used the cock and bull story of needing to get off the train as unwell. Had a cig, then nipped straight back in. Ticket to Derby was in the region of £75 single. I knew what I was doing, but prepared to take the risk. For future journeys I remained within the safety of the platform. I guess it's a promotional fare and I broke the terms of the ticket, but it's madness that in order to enjoy the discount I'd have to stay on the train longer. Professor knew the score, but still a ludicrous charge.
  • FUCK B.
  • Fare D.
    Just read the sun link. Prof looks a bit dodgy in my opinion. Anyone else think he's hiding a guilty wee secret ?
  • Dave
    Isn't it the same crap that airlines have been doing for years? Flying BA to the US (for example) was always cheaper if you started in Europe, but you can't turn up at Heathrow having missed the first flight as they cancel all your flights. I appreciate this is slightly different, this is like getting off the plane at Heathrow and not continuing into Europe on the way back, but the point is that pricing is based on how popular a certain route is. Personally I think they should price trains how most of the world does it, fixed prices all the time, no advanced nonsense and off peak just means that you can use your discount railcard to travel a bit cheaper. I'm surprised the rail company is being so anal though, ultimately it does make no difference to them at all if he got out 1 stop early.
  • greg
    everyone i've ever met that works for a train company is a dumb faceless unhelpful jobsworth cunt prick rude fucking depressed shallow scum fucking human being, period. and by the way this short stopping trick wouldnt work if train ticket prices made sense. peak zones? just fucking charge it by distance. what difference does it make if ur changing train in a peak zone or getting off? ur still part of the traffic that station sees. pointless
  • Jimmy S.
    This is the aaaaaaaaaaaage, ..of the train!
  • Trevor G.
    @Toddy. I must admit to a mistype there. Mistype or not, 'Advance' has a different meaning to 'Advanced' You talk like a taxi driver. One with 'Advanced' in the notice on the side of his cab.
  • Skymarshall
    @Trevor Technically if the word 'Advanced' is 'in' the notice, you won't see it. :) As for train companies, I hate them. That will be all.
  • Trevor G.
    @ skymarshall Now that's interesting. The word advanced is 'in' the content of the notice - the words, however it's 'on' the physical notice - the vinyl (or whatever the print medium is) Now. Which is correct?
  • Mistery S.
    You have answered the question yourself.. its to stop people abusing the system.. Birmingham to Darlington on October 28th at 4.30pm - £144.50. Birmingham to Durham - £144.50. Birmingham to Newcastle - £144.50. Birmingham to Edinburgh - £57.50. so if you want to goto Darlington, buy a ticket to Edinburgh cheap and get off in Darlington..
  • charlie
    I remember the other week I forgot to get off at barking on the c2c line, actually the train didn't stop there and went somewhere deep in essex. I explained that i missed my stop as i the wrong train at fenchurch st, the ticket chap let me through and i got the the return train back to barking. I think some common sense needs to be applied. No doubt the ticket peeps were tossers at Darlington end of story.
  • PaganWolf
    I bought a bottle of Coke today, I drank over half, but threw the rest in a bin. i am hoping Coca Cola don't notice or I might get charged again for what I left! If he had missed his original train, and got a different one then I could understand, but he will have SAVED them money more than anything, this is craziness. Perhaps he should weigh himself, and then work out how much electricity/diesel they saved from him not being on the train and bill them for it.
  • Fiyero
    I hate to do it but I am going to defend the train company. He broke the rules on purpose. It isn't like Charlie above who ended up on the wrong train by mistake. The train operators all have various discounted tickets available, they aren't as flexible as the full price tickets and stopping your journey early is the same as a break of journey which was forbidden on this ticket. Lots of companies follow this model or a variation of it. If I book a hotel I can buy a cheap ticket that allows no changes or cancellations or a full price ticket that allows me to cancel right up until the last minute, my choice. Locally to get to London by train I have the option of a return from Eastleigh for about £20 with my railcard or from Southampton for as little as £2.50 with Megatrain that means getting 1 specific train with no changes allowed. This train goes through, and stops at, Eastleigh but to use the Megatrain fare I have to get on and off at Southampton only or the ticket isn't valid. From one point of view it makes no sense but it is part of the business model.
  • PaganWolf
    Fiyero, I understand what you're saying. The gentleman was not intending to continue his journey. If you booked a cheap hotel and then couldn't make it, fair enough you don't get a refund, but do you get charged double for not staying there?
  • Sid
    No it is not the same as breaking one's journey, because Prof. Evans did not intend to resume it. Very simply, if rail companies dont want this sort of situation to arise, they shold not charge lower fares for travelling longer distances, or should not complain if people try to take advantage by getting off a train early. Anybody who cannot see Prof. Evan's point of view (which I suspect he shares with 99.99% of the population) really shouldn't be running a railway.
  • Sid
    ...and another thought, how much are you liable for if you don't board the train at all?
  • East B.
    [...] a insufferable, inflexible twats. There’s the outrage over charging a passenger £155 for leaving a train one stop early, and now passengers have learnt that East Coast will begin charging standard class passengers for [...]
  • Martin G.
    I thought this was a hoax until i saw it on the evening news. Unbelievable. Charging more because he left the train early is outrageous and possibly illegal. If you left a hotel or cinema early you wouldn't be fined for it. It's his prerogative to leave the train early, what if there was an emergency. If it was the other way round and the train had to terminate before its last stop could all passengers demand a fee of £150... No thought not.. Perhaps simple common sense should have prevailed.
  • Bob W.
    I understand the things being said in defence of the train company, however it' still a bit farcical. If you want to get off early, can you not just buy a super cheap ticket which is for the station in question as well as the ticket for the actual journey. Then you can get off early and skip through the ticket barriers, no?
  • yatysrjcwz
    1ry82M ywvdsdjoeazz
  • Eurocrap
    I may be as thick as an 'East Coast' brick but I fail to understand the apparent loss to EC that determines a punitive £155. If I was an employee of EC, who no doubt are overworked and under paid, the last thing I would spend my time doing is collecting more dosh for my employers whilst putting myself in the front line for abuse and agression. But then that's the kind of thick, megalomaniacal, obsequious little shit you get when you give them a uniform. " I've got POWER now you know, so show me some RESPECT"
  • fleet s.
    It's perfect time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be happy. I've learn this submit and if I may I wish to recommend you few interesting issues or tips. Perhaps you can write subsequent articles regarding this article. I desire to learn even more issues approximately it!

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment