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Early Off-peak Changes

Thanks to an eagle-eyed visitor from Chesham I have been alerted to some changes to the early starts of the off-peak cap.  These take effect from the fare change, effectively from Monday 20th January.  Remember that this is the time that the off-peak cap starts being counted, NOT when off-peak fares are charged.  And that is an important distinction in the light of one change.  The details are:

Chalfont and Latimer was 0915 and now becomes 0920.  This allows use of the 0925 to London.

Chesham was 0900 and now becomes 0910.  This is pointless as the first train you can now get is the 0934 which is off-peak anyway.

Hatch End has been added to the list at 0920.  Again, this is not that useful as the first London train is at 0932, but if the distance from the gates to the train is significant it might have some benefit.

The one that concerns me most is Chesham.  If you are going to make lots of journeys around London and trigger the off-peak cap then it won’t matter, but consider someone making a return journey to Baker Street and avoiding the afternoon peak.  If they touch in at 0920 they will be charged £10.60 in total, but by leaving it until 0930 the charge drops to £7.80.  The off-peak cap is £11.60 so is irrelevant to just a return journey.

You might say that this is the case anywhere with the first train after 0930, which of course it is.  But most other places don’t start the off-peak cap early.  The effect of this concession already confuses occasional travellers, and I can see more being confused now there is no train which can be caught between 0910 and 0930.  It would be better if they just reverted to the normal off-peak cap start.

2 Responses

  1. Michael Bovingdon

    Its now Novenmber 2014. The first official train for off peak fare from Chesham departs 0931; the cut off time is 0930. To get the cheap rate you have to wait outside the barrier until that exact moment and no earlier or you will still get charged to top rate, even though you have travelled after the cut off.

    Ths is not made clear, nor is there any suggestion as to how disabled persons or large family groups can avoid paying the rush hour fare, given the seconds between cut off and departure. Of course, holding the doors could get you in trouble.

    I can only react with cynicism.

  2. Hi Michael,

    That does pose a bit of a problem, I agree. The only thing I can suggest is that there is a small grace period before the end of peak fares. This is not officially published because its purpose is to avoid complaints that the station clock was wrong. In practice you can touch in up to 2 minutes prior to the end of the peak period and get charged the off-peak fare. Obviously you only need to do this if you won’t reach the off-peak cap during the day.

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