True stories from the Great Railway Disaster; No 42: so you want to go the other way to Southend

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme
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The Independent Online
THERE are two lines between London and Southend, the LTS from Fenchurch St to Southend Central and the Great Eastern from Liverpool St to Southend Victoria. It used to be possible to use the trains interchangeably.

Because the service on GE is in more modern trains than on LTS, commuters on that line pay pounds 168 more per year for a season ticket. Until last February it was possible for LTS commuters to pay a small supplement on GE trains.

This was particularly useful to people who spent the evening in London and returned on a late train, because after 10pm both services run from Liverpool St. Now, if they get on the wrong train, they are charged the full fare - pounds 9.20. This is because the London to Southend routes are now considered alternative routes, not through routes. While tickets for through routes can be used for any journey between two stations, tickets for alternative routes are not interchangeable.

Richard Delahoy, chairman of the Southend Rail Travellers' Association, wrote to the Rail Regulator asking for the old regime to be re-established. He pointed out that the services should be viewed as through routes since the Liverpool Street line extends beyond Southend to Shoeburyness.

The Regulator was not prepared to change the situation.