All I need is a train ticket

How hard can it be?

I know where I am and I know where I need to go, I know roughly what time – sometimes I know exactly what time, and I have a credit card ready and waiting to buy the tickets.

So why, why, why do I dread booking train tickets so much? And why is it always such an infuriating experience?

Camera Train by dok1

Take today for instance. I needed a single to London tomorrow, a single from London to Weston-super-Mare (who says my job isn’t glamorous) and then onwards home to Newton Abbot. So three tickets but I knew what time and when and even what type of ticket I needed so it shouldn’t have taken more than five minutes max.

So first stop was the trainline website. I searched for my first ticket, problems with the site meant that advance fairs weren’t available. I knew I was on an off peak train so decided to book an off-peak single. I got as far as choosing the fare, reserving a seat and agreeing to pay the £1 booking fee even though I would then collect the tickets myself from the fast ticket machine. Then it made me log in, that’s ok, simples. Right? Nooo, wrong. I log in and it takes me back to the home page to start the process all over again.

Now I have been known to be patient occasionally so I decide to have another go but this time the whole site freezes. So I skip over to the First Great Western website which was also hideously slow but did at least allow me to book the tickets eventually. The whole process took the best part of an hour – an hour of my life that I will never get back, an hour of my life that I could have spent doing other more useful things, like having a lunch break.

There is a silver lining to this story that comes in the form of Dave! I was moaning on twitter about how RUBBISH my experience had been….nothing more than venting really, certainly didn’t expect anything to come of it, I didn’t even know that @thetrainline had an account.

Then out of nowhere I get a tweet from Dave offering to help sort it out. I was delighted at the personal touch. I’d already resorted to FGW by the time I saw Dave’s response but it might have been enough to encourage me to give trainline another chance next time….if I forget that they’ll charge me an additional booking fee!

Look for the silver lining by skittzitilby

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2 thoughts on “All I need is a train ticket

  1. I’ve had exactly the same experience as you, many times over, so nowadays I treat all the train operating company websites as fruit machines that give train tickets as prizes. You just have to keep nudging and holding.

    The other problem I’ve had is when the site offers you a cheap ticket, and then takes it away again. I find SouthWestTrains is slightly less annoying than ThirdRateWestern or TheTrainline, but I usually ended logged into all three!

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