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Trains to London

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On 9 Jan 2012 at 8:22am Lark wrote:
Hi
I will need to travel into London a few times a week (2 or 3) over the next 6 months. Can anyone advise on what the train journey is like to and from Lewes.
What are the carriages like (space to use a laptop, read a book)?
Do you get a seat?
I'd prefer not to drive west of Lewes for the Brighton-London line.
Any insights would be greatly appreciated.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 9:31am some0ne else wrote:
Generally it's fine*. If you're travelling to and from a London terminal you'll pretty much always have a seat. The Brighton line is far busier. I'd say a daily journey is more than 30 mins late about once every three weeks.
* 'fine' in this context meaning obscenely overpriced, I hate the tedious monotony of it and wish I had an alternative but, hey, such is life.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 9:44am DFL wrote:
Retire !!
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 9:57am Clifford wrote:
I'm lucky enough to only do the journey about once a week on average - I can generally guarantee that I'll be filling in a 'delay pay' form, which cuts the price of the journey. Always get a seat though.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 10:07am HappyCommuter wrote:
I think it depends which train you get. I get the 0722 each morning to Victoria and it's rarely significantly late. I've been doing it for two years now and I can't think of a single time I haven't got a seat. I work, read or watch films on the way in - it's actually quite an enjoyable time of my day.
The only annoying thing for me is that the is only one train to Victoria between 0600 and 0745 (arriving into London before 9) but there are three to London Bridge.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 10:19am Commuter hell wrote:
London Bridge trains are packed, but you will get almost always get a seat at Lewes - unless the train before has been cancelled - happened to me twice in three years of commuting.
As you are travelling up 2-3 days a week I'd suggest buying the daysave tickets online - £100 for five tix, dates booked two weeks in advance, using only southern trains - but best value for money if you know which days you will be working.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 11:15am Southover Queen wrote:
The DaySave tickets are off-peak only, aren't they CH?
I do the Lewes-London trip fairly regularly, and the discrepancies between the cost of travelling on trains arriving in London before 1000 and later are extraordinary. I haven't done it since the price hike (first time this evening, in fact) but last year the difference was £45 odd for an anytime return or £13 for a super off peak travelcard with Railcard.

If Lark is going to be travelling before 0900 and does more than two trips per week then it's going to be marginally better value to get a season ticket than buying the tickets individually. You get no Railcard discounts on trains leaving Lewes before 1000 and there don't seem to be any advance purchase discounts either.

Given the fact that a monthly season ticket costs the same as a medium sized mortgage it's not surprising that in my experience the peak hour trains have seating available and you can generally find a seat with a table which allows you to work. The trains do get very busy at surprising hours of the day - the first discounted trains, for instance, can be rammed - and it can be a real fight to get a seat coming back in the evening from Victoria because you're competing with other, shorter distance, commuters, some of whom have very sharp elbows. Don't even think about getting on the busier trains at Clapham...!
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 11:32am Happy Commuter wrote:
That's a bit of an exagerration, SQ - my season ticket (albeit with an interest free loan from my employers) is about £290 a month, my mortgage (for a modest three-bed semi in Lewes) is about £1400 a month.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 11:42am Southover Queen wrote:
Southern are listing a monthly season as £445.90, and even a yearly season works out at £387. That's considerably more than my mortgage!

Obviously I didn't mean it literally: there are such huge variables in what people regard as a reasonable mortgage (although yours sound terrifying and not medium sized at all!). Shall I rephrase? "The cost of a monthly season ticket is the cost of renting a room in Lewes." The point is that travelling to London on peak time trains is very expensive. Or do you dispute that too?
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 11:53am Clifford wrote:
Happy Commuter, if you're spending over £20,000 a year on fares + mortgage alone, you must have a very well paid job.
 
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 12:01pm Commuter hell wrote:
The daysave tickets I buy include peak hours. You have to buy 5 at once, two weeks in advance online and only use southern trains, but the price hasn't risen in three years and is the cheapest way to travel at peak hours if you don't work every day in town.

A weekly season (withoput travelcard) to London stations is £100.50. Season tickets price vary depending on whether you want the LU ravelcard element as well.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 12:27pm Commuter wrote:
I have always assumed that those commuting to London on a daily basis had a reasonably well paid job and by that I mean £75k plus.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 12:56pm some0ne else wrote:
Commuter - a distant glimpse of such a salary would be marvellous! You're not even close.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 1:57pm Lark wrote:
Thank you to everyone posting a response this is really helpful and very much appreciated. HappyCommuter, I like the idea of watching a film to pass the time
Thanks to those of you providing information on costs.
This forum is great. I hope I will be able to contribute to discussions in future and help other posters....pay it forward so to speak.

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On 9 Jan 2012 at 3:28pm Southover Queen wrote:
Commuter Hell: wow! Thanks so much: I had no idea such a ticket existed! It took me ages to find the stuff on their website, but you can indeed buy five days peak travel for £80, which is quite a saving! I've added a link for anyone else who is curious.

Check it out here »
 
 
On 9 Jan 2012 at 4:15pm Commuter hell wrote:
That's £80 for a weekly (ie seven days) daysave at any time.
The five separate tickets are daysave flexi, £100 for five tickets that don't have to be consecutive days.

And yes - it does take a while to find on the southern website, they keep it well hidden, but if you are organised and book well in advance it can save you quite a bit of money. Thanks for providing link.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 4:29pm some0ne else wrote:
If I understand it correctly, and assuming I'd planned holidays and leave carefully, that would be cheaper than my annual season. That's mad.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 4:33pm Happy Commuter wrote:
SQ, it's sometimes horrifying to me as well but if you want to buy a family house, even in a modest area such as Nevill, and are still fairly young and don't have huge wealth or equity to call on, you are looking at at least a £1,200 per month mortgage, I'd say. I'm sure I'm not alone and in terms of the thirtysomething commuters from Lewes to London, fairly normal.
And yes, commuting from Lewes is expensive. But it's not as expensive as some places - look at how much it costs from Oxford (roughly the same distance from London as Lewes).
 
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 5:57pm I go to London, well Han wrote:
I go to London, well Hanger Lane, 3 times a week and drive because it is much cheaper and sometimes quicker.
I would love to go by train if it were cheaper that by car, however it is not during peak hours. We have a daft system where there is no competition, many company layers that each take their profit, a stupid tendering system for the franchise, no long term planning for rolling stock and yet many have to use the railways. Also over complicated fares and ticket buying systems designed to confuse and help one make the wrong choices.
Personally I would be happy with the clubby slam door trains, a BR sandwich, and fares that were within everyone's budget. It cost me over £50 plus tube for an ordinary return today (I was not able to book in advance). Bonkers. The current system is bollox.....rant over for now. A DaySave ticket seems good IF you know when you are travelling?
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 5:59pm Merlin Milner wrote:
The post above regarding going to Hanger Lane was from me. Pasted body text into the wrong box and pressed Post. Doh!
 
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 8:50pm Min wrote:
This link is very interesting - I clicked the link above, and tried to buy a daysave flexi. I'm registered with southernrailway.com, but the link to the daysave tickets doesnt recognise my login - then I spotted the website is actually southernrailwaytickets.com. How odd.
But a great deal for a 3 day a week contract, so I'll register with that site as well.
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 8:52pm TendAderb wrote:
 
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 9:33pm Reliable Plumber wrote:
It's always been expensive even in the BR days though. When I had London contracts 20(?) odd years ago I seem to remember a peak rate weekly was eighty quid and a day ticket was £25!!!
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On 9 Jan 2012 at 11:25pm Southover Queen wrote:
@Min: yes, I spent a good ten minutes hopelessly trying to login using my Southernrailway details. Like you, it wasn't until I'd actually looked at the URL that I realised it was different. Weird, and certainly not at all user friendly! Almost as if they were trying hard to hide it and once you did manage to fight your way through the thickets then confuse you by rejecting all attempts to log in without any explanation. Almost as if, in fact, they don't want you to buy these tickets. Of course that can't be why - can it?
 
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On 10 Jan 2012 at 9:50am Clifford wrote:
Southern are having lots of problems with their website and are reduced to replying to complaints by blaming the customer's computer or browser etc. Nevertheless their 'delay pay' scheme is excellent. If they're a bit slow dealing with complaints, it's always best to go straight to the Chief Executive: chris.burchell@southernrailway.com
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On 10 Jan 2012 at 10:47am Commuter hell wrote:
Yes, you need two logins to book the daysave tickets - but they do represent very good value, and unaffected (so far) but the huge annual hikes. If you know the days you are working well in advance - as I do - then it's pretty easy to get into the habit of booking regularly.
@SQ I agree it's very hard to find the daysave details on the southern site. The only drawback to them is I don't think you can claim back on the 'delay pay' scheme, but I could be proved wrong on that.
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On 10 Jan 2012 at 5:47pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
You're so right Merlin. One way or overnight tickets are even more ludicrously expensive.
It's crazy that it is cheaper to drive to Lewes from just within the M25 than to get a train, even more absurd that it's actually quicker to drive from Caterham, where my friend lives, than to come down by train. If he's staying overnight down here, driving costs less than half what it would to travel both ways by train.
A few years ago, I was going to spend the weekend with a friend who lives in a village just outside Solihull. It's a 330 mile round trip, and even that worked out cheaper to drive than to go by train. I may have been able to get a cheaper deal if I'd booked in advance and got one of those tickets where you get a particular train, but even they were quoted at £35 return and none were available at a convenient time. As I get over 50mpg out of my car, and diesel at the time was around £5 pg, it was a bit of a no-brainer once you factored in the convenience of door-to-door driving and no lugging of bags etc. And driving meant I could take the dogs!
 
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On 10 Jan 2012 at 7:44pm Min wrote:
Southover Queen the plot thickens. If you order a season ticket online on the usual website, you can only have it posted to you, but if you order via the DaySave site you can collect from a station ticket machine - weird. Two totally different booking systems maybe ?
 
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On 10 Jan 2012 at 9:30pm Southover Queen wrote:
I wonder whether there's actually a statutory obligation to offer discounted fares even at peak times if you order ahead - they used to be called apex fares. So their way round it is to offer a special fare which you won't find in any normal search (I've tried, which is why I was so astounded then this popped up) and which can only be booked on a different site. Most people would give up before they ever got to the point of ordering.

The fact though is that a peak daysave ticket saves you a third of the normal fare (£30 vs £44) and apart from having to book it ahead of time that seems to be it. No wonder they don't want people knowing about them.

So yes, Min: I'm sure there are two completely separate ticketing systems in operation here. That way we won't find out about them, eh?
 
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On 11 Jan 2012 at 9:36am some0ne else wrote:
SQ. I'm fairly certain that the franchise agreement with the TOC (Southern) will include certain obligations to sell a range of discounted tickets, and Southern appears to be being a bit sneaky about how it goes about this.

I can see why they would want to encourage casual and off-peak travellers to fill up their trains, but extorting the maximum possible revenue from their core customer base really isn't fair.
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On 11 Jan 2012 at 3:57pm Commuter hell wrote:
I think Ive worked out why there are two sites -

the standard tickets, season tickets etc can be used on any service - not just southern, and I guess people can book them through other train operators as well.

the daysave tickets are for southern trains only - so have a different website. they can't be used on other trains so presumably can;t be booked through other train operators.

does that make sense ?

they really arn't that hard to find on the southern site, just a bit hidden. and daily daysave tickets are also sold at the Lewes tourist information office (but not at the station ticket office).

really it's discrimatory against those of us who don't have access to the internet - who are probably also the poorest members of our society - who could do with the cheapest possible fares.

 
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On 13 Jan 2012 at 10:43am TheLongMan wrote:
ACT, I grew up near Solihull and go back there regularly. I find it hard to believe it's more expensive to drive if you are flexible on time. Returns from Marylebone to the Midlands are £25 off-peak and you can obviously do Lewes to London return for around the same, if not less. Total train travelling time would be three hours or so, depending on connections and getting across London.
Surely petrol for the round trip would be more than that? And that's before we get into the cost of the car and depreciation, and the "opportunity cost" of not being able to work, read or watch a film when you're driving. All stuff people forget to cost when they are comparing trains with cars.
Incidentally if I didn't have family there you would have to pay me to go to Solihull. While some of the villages are nice, it's possibly the dullest, most conventional place in the country. I didn't surprise me recently when I read it has the lowest gay population per head of anywhere in England (while this part of the world has the highest). It's also the spiritual home of Harry Enfields "Considerably-Richers".


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