Daily Archives: January 11, 2011

Don’t they want my business?

How hard can it be to buy a train ticket?

I’ve been trying to buy in advance, to take advantage of cheaper advance fares.

First attempt: go to nationalrail.co.uk, enter details of my journey, select my trains.  It gives me a price, and I click to buy.  It offers a couple of options (forward or backward, window or aisle seat etc, no commitment on their part).

So far so good.  But then it takes me from nationalrail’s site to firstgreatwestern.co.uk for the actual purchase.  Except, FGW shows me the timetable for my selections, but tells me the journey I selected doesn’t exist!  Huh?  OK, click on my selected trains on the timetable, nothing happens.

Try again, same thing.

Try a different tack: start from the beginning on FGW site.  This time it takes me through to a point where it invites me to log in or register.  There is no option for what I want to do – just buy an effing ticket for the journey I’ve just selected, if you please!  Grrr … OK, let’s play along.

By the time I can log in, it’s telling me my journey doesn’t exist.  Again!

OK, google for other sites that’ll sell me a ticket (hope I don’t stumble on a fraud site).  thetrainline.com gives me the same journey and then the same effing login/registration crap: bugger that.  Raileasy and Railsaver both timeout trying to show me a timetable.

Finally I get to a site called mytrainticket.co.uk, which appears to work and after some annoying crap it presents my options rather nicely.  Only by now, the cost of my ticket has just doubled, and is no longer any cheaper than an open ticket.  It’s doubled at nationalrail, too – I guess all my queries have told their system this journey is in lots of demand 😦

At some point in all this I also tried ‘phoning FGW.  Even the bloomin’ ‘phone cut me off after I selected the “buy a ticket” option.  Is this managed by the same people as the website?

Grrr ….

On a separate note, I also had a look at travel to Brussels for FOSDEM.  I asked for a ticket from Plymouth through to Brussels, which was OK.  But then I also tried to see if it would let me book a package inclusive of hotel, after checking the place I’ve stayed in recent years and been less than enthused by this year’s price.  Eurostar’s site tells me it’s not possible to book a hotel because my journey starts in Plymouth!

Yeah, right.  If I’m travelling to Brussels on the Friday and returning to Plymouth on the Monday I must be wanting a hotel for three nights in [guess where]?  Here’s a clue: it’s the same as if my starting point had been London.  Evidently that guess is too difficult for Eurostar’s developer.

Bah, Humbug.