This blog post is named for the people First Great Western employ to make sure no-one travels on their trains without paying.
Although I live only 20 minutes’ walk from the nearest station, and used to use FGW to commute 2-3 times a week from there to Paddington, I no longer do so – preferring to drive 50 miles and take a (South-West) train to Waterloo instead. It takes the same time, door to door, and saves me £50 compared to the cost of a standard return ticket with FGW. And yes, I am including the cost of the petrol for the 100-mile round trip drive. It’s insane.
To get to last week’s e-Government conference, I took the train from Copenhagen airport across to Malmo. Unfortunately I cocked up the ticket-buying process in most respects: what I thought was an “open” return turned out to be only a 24-hour one, and in any case I didn’t realise, in my rush to board the train, that I was supposed to validate the ticket in a machine on the platform.
To make matters worse, I didn’t discover any of this until the return rail journey, when a ticket inspector was doing his rounds of the carriage. As the various errors emerged, my heart sank. Having seen other people go through the equivalent process at the hands of FGW’s Revenue Protection Support Staff, my immediate reaction was “this is going to be expensive”. However, he assured me there was no need to worry, explained about the ticket validation and return period, endorsed my ticket with a date/time of outward journey, wished me a pleasant journey, and that was that.
Oh, and incidentally, that service runs every 20 minutes, all day, every day.
If you travel by FGW, they don’t call it a train – they call it a “service” – or at least, they did when I last used one. I don’t think that word means what they think it means.