While walking to the railway station this afternoon I took a look at tickets the machine at the station printed out, and noticed the overall journey ticket wasn’t for a specific service – I could use it throughout the day. Once I arrived at my departing station (High Wycombe), I jumped on the first train going in the same direction I wanted to, secure in the thought that my ticket would be fine. I was wrong.
My original journey would have taken me to Banbury, then Sheffield, before heading off towards Yorkshire. It turns out the first train I got on would only take me as far as Oxford. Not a problem, I thought – Oxford, and Banbury are on the same railway line – and I could get the train from Oxford that would pass through Sheffield – so just changing trains at a different station.
Turns out my ticket didn’t really allow me to do that. I should have gone to Banbury, and changed there. Let’s remember that I would have then changed at Banbury, and got on the train I’m now sitting on. It’s madness, isn’t it. I frowned, and asked the ticket guy what the difference was, and he half grinned, and stamped my ticket anyway.
The UK rail network is one of those enigmatic puzzles, where you can think you understand it for a while, but then something ridiculous happens, and you give up ever trying to understand it. You can sometimes buy tickets to the other end of the country more cheaply than you can visit the next town. You can also sometimes buy return tickets that are cheaper than single tickets – and at other times you can buy two single tickets that are cheaper than a return ticket. None of it ever makes much sense.
Anyway. I just left Oxford. I’m originally from Oxfordshire (and yes, it actually IS “The Shire” from Tolkein’s books). I think this is the second time I have been back to Oxford station in about 10 years – I never left the station this time though. The station hasn’t really changed at all. I used to pass through it to visit my other half when we were first going out. I would get out of work on a Friday evening, get the bus to Oxford, then the train to where she lived.
The train just stopped at Banbury. Without leaving my seat, I am now on the correct train. Madness, isn’t it. In another couple of hours we will arrive in Sheffield for my final change of trains.
Maybe it’s time to read a book, or watch a movie. Time to switch off, and try to forget that I’ll be making this same journey tomorrow night, and then doing a similar journey on Sunday night, and again next Friday afternoon. There’s got to be a better career than travelling around the country, pretending to be knowledgeable about things, hasn’t there ?