After a marvellous weekend, it was time for me to meander back to Norwich and I was doing this in a number of stages. Firstly, it was getting a London Northwestern Railway service from Liverpool Lime Street to Crewe. The reasoning for this relates to split ticketing and making my train journey back as cheap as possible.
My morning started with a debacle, which at least gives me something else to write about. I use my Chase debit card to buy nearly everything, as I get 1% back and that’s entirely optimal as far as I’m concerned. However, there’s a glitch with Chase that for security reasons they garble the card number and so it’s not possible to pick up the tickets at the station as the machine doesn’t recognise the card. Recently this hasn’t been a problem, I just get e-tickets and so there’s no need for a pick-up, but it seems that London Northwestern Railway don’t have that facility.
After the machine failed, as I expected, I went to the ticket office with some moderate concern that my train was leaving in 25 minutes. That sounds a lot of time, but these things often take a while to resolve and I was sensing a problem. Fortunately the ticket office was entirely empty and the staff member there was very polite, but said that she couldn’t do anything about it. Now, when this has happened before, the ticket office has been able to print the ticket, but she said that wasn’t possible now. Her suggestion was to contact GWR who issued the ticket.
Now, I was mightily impressed at GWR. They have a WhatsApp contact where you can just message them and my problem was resolved by them within two minutes of my sending it to them. They changed the ticket so that it could be picked up by any card and that meant I could collect my ticket. They queried why the ticket office hadn’t done this or tried to contact them directly and it feels sub-optimal that there’s confusion between the rail company and the ticket office. I don’t know who is right, but I was fortunate to have booked with GWR as their customer service seems on point.
The train pulled into the station on time.
I wouldn’t say that it was spotlessly clean, but it was comfortable and there were plenty of seats.
There weren’t any power outlets though which was a little disappointing. The young lady sitting in this seat later on in the journey had the wrong ticket, she was travelling to Birmingham and had a ticket for later on in the day. The conductor was polite, but firm, telling her that he wouldn’t issue a penalty fare notice but saying that she would have to get off at the next station. The lady explained that she couldn’t afford to buy another ticket, but the conductor said if she disembarked than she could board a later train with the ticket that she had. The lady’s story was true as when the conductor had gone she phoned her mother to ask her to transfer money onto her card so she could buy the £30 or so ticket that she needed to stay on the train. She went off to find the conductor, asking me to look after her bags (which is something I don’t like doing really as if someone comes to steal them then I’m hardly going to fight them) and she merrily returned with a ticket which let her stay on the train.
And safely into Crewe with the journey running on time. The fare was £13.80 from Liverpool to Crewe, which felt entirely reasonable.