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Plans foiled by East Coast Trains

Yesterday, we had plans for taking my mom to Edinburgh via the train. Tim and I planned on using our staff travel passes, and we had my mom apply for a Senior Rail Card (You are eligible at age 60) so we could save money on her ticket. I booked her ticket last week on the East Coast Trains website.

After getting out of the house a bit later than we had wanted, we managed to get to Newark North Gate with time to spare, as our train had been delayed due to engineering works. Tim explained that the engineering works was probably supposed to have ended prior to the first train of the day, but something must have happened to prevent engineering from giving up the possession (sometimes it helps to have a husband “in the know”!). While we were waiting, my husband was outside on the platform and saw a train go past with blue sparks coming out of the overhead – The trains were having problems with the frosty covered overhead wires and he speculated that was why our train might have been running late.

So we sat and read and kept glancing up at the timetable as our delay changed to being over an hour late….and then was simply replaced by the words “delayed” and an announcement that there were wires down. Tim said that wasn’t good, so I took the opportunity to go speak with someone at the ticket counter.

First, let me say that he was amazing, and I wish I remembered his name. He explained to me that it was looking likely that our train would be cancelled OR the delay would be so fierce that by the time we arrived in Edinburgh, we’d have to turn right back around on the train we had booked Mom’s return ticket on. I asked him what we should do about the fact that her tickets claim it is “non-refundable”, and he explained that he would endorse the tickets and I could go to the website to claim a refund since the train was going to be cancelled and we had day return tickets. He couldn’t offer me the refund right there as the tickets were purchased through the website. He then also validated our parking ticket so we wouldn’t have to pay £9 for day parking. He also told me that if we decided to go to Edinburgh tomorrow (er, today), I could just bring the tickets back to him and he would re-issue them.

So..we left. We salvaged the day slightly by going to Newark Castleand the National Space Centre*, but it was still a disappointing day.

East Coast Trains announced they planned on getting trains running again by 18:30, with one train an hour, but according to their website right now, most services are still suspended, so I don’t think we’ll be attempting Edinburgh today.

But imagine my confusion when I go to the website to put in my claim!

According to their website, we are eligible for a refund, as the site clearly states:

With the following instructions:

But then, when I’m looking at the “Your Account” page, the option to request a refund is blanked out:

I completely undestand that technically the ticket is “Non-refundable”, but both the person we spoke with at Newark North Gate and their own website says I am eligible for a refund regardless because the service was cancelled.

So..now what? I guess my only option is to send the request by post…and given that it is TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS and most of the UK is shut down the Monday and Tuesday after to cover the holiday, I don’t think I’ll be seeing this refund anytime soon. Which is quite annoying because if we do decide to go anywhere next week, we’ll have to pay for Mom’s tickets instead of applying the refund.

Of course, this is assuming I ever actually GET the refund, too. Tim and I also each wasted one of our passes, as you can’t amend/cross out anything on the pass and we already had the date written in on it. In the long-run, that’s not as big of an issue as being out £50, though. We probably won’t use all 16 passes before next year’s cards are issued anyway.

And to make things even MORE difficult for us – last night we had a power cut for about an hour and despite having the fire going, it’s been impossible to warm the house up again.

*Also, interesting to note. Day admission to the Space Centre gives you an annual pass.

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