Hitchin commuter sold £5,216 annual travelcard that ‘expires’ two days ago

The erroneous travelcard sold by Great Northern to Simon Lucas at Hitchin. Picture: Simon Lucas

The erroneous travelcard sold by Great Northern to Simon Lucas at Hitchin. Picture: Simon Lucas - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin commuter says he has “officially reached his limit” with the railways after Great Northern today sold him a £5,216 annual travelcard that “expired” two days ago.

Hitchin commuter Simon Lucas. Picture: Rachael Marshall

Hitchin commuter Simon Lucas. Picture: Rachael Marshall - Credit: Archant

Simon Lucas travels into central London each day for work, and this morning forked out the four-figure yearly fee to renew his travelcard to Zone 1. Much to his annoyance, he paid full price as Great Northern operator Govia Thameslink does not offer renewal discounts for failing reliability and punctuality targets.

Station staff at Hitchin waved Simon through with his new travelcard, and it was only when he was unable to get through the barriers at Warren Street tube station that he discovered the expiry date on it was June 19, 2018 – two days before he bought it.

“My brand new £5,000+ season ticket expired two days ago!” vented Simon, in a furious series of tweets this afternoon.

“Since I still had my receipt, the TfL employee at the gate advised me to ‘go to Euston’ – the nearest mainline station – to get it sorted out.


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“At Euston they only had five ticket desks open, so I had to queue for 20 minutes. When I got to the desk they said they couldn’t help me because they’re a Virgin station. ‘Go to King’s Cross’, they said.

“At King’s Cross there was another queue. The lady at the desk eventually said she couldn’t help me either. ‘You need to go to St Pancras,’ she decreed.

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“At St Pancras – after yet more queueing – they tell me that they can’t do anything because they’re on ‘a different system’ to Hitchin. By this point I’m on the verge of a full Basil Fawlty-style meltdown.”

Simon headed back to King’s Cross to catch a train, only to find the St Pancras ticket office had given him back his plastic ticket wallet but, inexplicably, removed the ticket itself.

He returned to St Pancras but all the staff he had spoken to had gone on break.

Thankfully for Simon, he still had a photo of the ticket on his phone – and was able to talk his way through the barriers and onto a train using that.

“Back at Hitchin there’s no sign of the person I spoke to earlier,” he continued.

“‘Timothy’ eventually gets to grips with things and issues me a replacement ticket. It takes him 10 minutes of fiddling with his computer. Still no discount. But he at least has the decency to apologise.

“So now I’m finally en route back into London. I’ve officially reached my limit though. The railways are broken. Comprehensively broken.”

He concluded that the problem wasn’t just Govia Thameslink but “the whole rotten patchwork system. A complete bloody shambles.”

A Govia Thameslink spokesman said: “We apologise sincerely to Mr Lucas for the inconvenience caused by what appears to have been a unique ticketing system error.”

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