Advice on fares and routing, Exeter to Maidstone please

geoffk

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2010
Messages
2,134
I’ve booked a steam railway tour in Kent and Sussex in April and, rather than go for the inclusive price with rail travel, I’ve decided to book my own rail tickets, from Exeter (Polsloe Bridge to be exact) to Maidstone and return.

I have a fare of £69.95 for a super off-peak return with Senior Railcard. I entered “not via London terminals” to get a fare via the North Downs line, Redhill and Tonbridge, departing POL at 09.46, the earliest possible with this ticket. Arrival at Maidstone West is at 15.31, this route being quite slow but avoids going via London with luggage.

The quickest route, via Paddington, St. Pancras, then HS1 to Strood, gives an arrival at MDW at 14.27 (from the opposite direction, of course). This also comes up with a fare of £69.95.

My question is - as the fare by both routes is the same, can I decide on the day which way to go or do I have to commit myself to one route or the other when I book? In other words can I ask for an “any permitted route” ticket? A possible snag with the North Downs route is that trains between Redhill, Tonbridge and Maidstone are only hourly so a cancellation could make me late checking in to the hotel.

I’m not going to book just yet as we can’t be sure what timetable will be operating in April, but we hope the Covid situation will mean there will be more trains and not fewer. There’s also the matter of possible engineering works over the Easter period.

Any advice welcome!
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Watershed

Established Member
Joined
26 Sep 2020
Messages
3,544
Location
UK
I’ve booked a steam railway tour in Kent and Sussex in April and, rather than go for the inclusive price with rail travel, I’ve decided to book my own rail tickets, from Exeter (Polsloe Bridge to be exact) to Maidstone and return.

I have a fare of £69.95 for a super off-peak return with Senior Railcard. I entered “not via London terminals” to get a fare via the North Downs line, Redhill and Tonbridge, departing POL at 09.46, the earliest possible with this ticket. Arrival at Maidstone West is at 15.31, this route being quite slow but avoids going via London with luggage.

The quickest route, via Paddington, St. Pancras, then HS1 to Strood, gives an arrival at MDW at 14.27 (from the opposite direction, of course). This also comes up with a fare of £69.95.

My question is - as the fare by both routes is the same, can I decide on the day which way to go or do I have to commit myself to one route or the other when I book? In other words can I ask for an “any permitted route” ticket? A possible snag with the North Downs route is that trains between Redhill, Tonbridge and Maidstone are only hourly so a cancellation could make me late checking in to the hotel.

I’m not going to book just yet as we can’t be sure what timetable will be operating in April, but we hope the Covid situation will mean there will be more trains and not fewer. There’s also the matter of possible engineering works over the Easter period.

Any advice welcome!
Walk-up through fares are available in two routes - "✠VIA TAUNTON" (more expensive) and "✠VIA HONITON" (cheaper). The via Taunton fares are also valid via Honiton, should you wish to travel that way. So they are effectively Any Permitted.

Neither route obliges you to travel via London (nor to avoid it), and as both are routes of walk-up tickets, neither ties you to a specific train or itinerary.

Depending on your exact dates and times of travel, it may be cheaper to buy a combination of tickets and/or Advance tickets. However, the £69.95 Super Off-Peak Return via Taunton is good value for money in my view, given the flexibility it offers.
 

geoffk

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2010
Messages
2,134
Via Honiton is around £3 cheaper and is still quicker than via North Downs, despite the LSWR main line being quite slow. I could start from Pinhoe, then via Waterloo/Waterloo East and Paddock Wood. I can get a bus to Pinhoe and don't have to worry about being on the wrong side of the level crossing!
 

Class800

Member
Joined
5 Feb 2020
Messages
672
Location
West Country
Via Honiton is around £3 cheaper and is still quicker than via North Downs, despite the LSWR main line being quite slow. I could start from Pinhoe, then via Waterloo/Waterloo East and Paddock Wood. I can get a bus to Pinhoe and don't have to worry about being on the wrong side of the level crossing!
I live in Cranbrook and often this line isn't that reliable due to long stretches of single track, delays can build up. But if it's on time, it's good. If it's closed - can happen in bad weather - acceptance is offered via the Taunton route, with the usually not permitted routing via Exeter SD encouraged. But only when there's a closure.
 

Watershed

Established Member
Joined
26 Sep 2020
Messages
3,544
Location
UK
Via Honiton is around £3 cheaper and is still quicker than via North Downs, despite the LSWR main line being quite slow. I could start from Pinhoe, then via Waterloo/Waterloo East and Paddock Wood. I can get a bus to Pinhoe and don't have to worry about being on the wrong side of the level crossing!
Beware that with the new SWR timetable, the West of England line service is split at Salisbury. The connections don't match up particularly well, either. There's no knowing how long it will go on for.
 

Class800

Member
Joined
5 Feb 2020
Messages
672
Location
West Country
Beware that with the new SWR timetable, the West of England line service is split at Salisbury. The connections don't match up particularly well, either. There's no knowing how long it will go on for.
Probably quite a while - that was the case last time they introduced this split working. And it can be quite annoying, slower, but also at Salisbury two train loads of passengers have to swap units via a narrow tunnel at the same time, people coming both ways. Can be a bit claustrophobic. With the difference in price for this routing being quite small, I personally wouldn't recommend going for the cheaper via Honiton tickets at the moment
 

Alfonso

Member
Joined
22 Jul 2017
Messages
336
With such a small difference in price I'd buy the via Taunton one just in case. If carting bags is an issue you could go Exeter SD to reading to Waterloo (slow but avoids underground)
 

paul1609

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2006
Messages
5,045
Location
Wittersham Kent
I'm not really sure what fares you are looking at, with your railcard Polsoe Bridge to Maidstone Stations there are two routes with Super Off Peak tickets +via Honiton at £58.70 and +via Taunton at £69.95
Maidstone has three stations the main one is East which is on the Victoria to Dover Line this is on the East Side of the River Medway and closest to the town centre, Maidstone West and Maidstone Barracks on the Stroud to Paddock Wood Branch (the Medway Valley Line) which is on the West Side of the River Medway. Maidstone Barracks is only really a halt on the branch line across the river from East.
Either ticket allows any route from London but be aware of extra time restrictions on HS1 from St Pancras
The quickest way will be always be in to Paddington and depending on your arrival time there by various routes.
In normal times the easiest way with luggage would be Exeter St Davids to Clapham Junction, change there for a Victoria Train its basically down a set of stairs right under 2 tracks and up the next set of stairs, trains to Victoria are normally every few minutes.
At Victoria walk across the concourse from the Southern side to the Southeastern side and take a semi fast service to Maidstone East via Bromley South.
All you really need to know is that if when you were born your local station was West or Barracks you are a Kentish Man, if Maidstone East you are a Man of Kent. Modern developments on this is that if you were born north of the M2 you are a Chav, if you were born in London you are a "DFL" (down from London).
 

geoffk

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2010
Messages
2,134
Thanks for information. I'll probably go via Paddington and St. Pancras to Strood and on to Maidstone West as that's the quickest, especially if going via Salisbury means changing there (why are they splitting the route?) and it would be good to try the Javelin service. My mate from Bradford will be coming into Kings Cross so it's a good journey for him going that way. We did a lot of overseas steam tours up to a few years ago so this should be easy but of course we were younger then!
 

Class800

Member
Joined
5 Feb 2020
Messages
672
Location
West Country
Thanks for information. I'll probably go via Paddington and St. Pancras to Strood and on to Maidstone West as that's the quickest, especially if going via Salisbury means changing there (why are they splitting the route?) and it would be good to try the Javelin service. My mate from Bradford will be coming into Kings Cross so it's a good journey for him going that way. We did a lot of overseas steam tours up to a few years ago so this should be easy but of course we were younger then!
Why are they splitting the route? It's something they often do in disruption and temporary timetables - I think it's so staff shortages and/or delays between Exeter and Salisbury don't affect the Salisbury to London service! Or that's what us down in the west country tend to think.
 

Watershed

Established Member
Joined
26 Sep 2020
Messages
3,544
Location
UK
Either ticket allows any route from London but be aware of extra time restrictions on HS1 from St Pancras
There are no time restrictions on the use of HS1 (Southeastern) services from St Pancras in the electronic fares data and thus journey planners will readily offer itineraries on any service.

The restriction codes referred to - CI and CJ - are set by EMR, and the intention of only restricting travel on EMR is demonstrated by the fact that the electronic data limits St Pancras restrictions to travel on EMR.
 

Top