Commuter column - My Platform

London to Brighton line just north of the Balcombe viaduct
London to Brighton line just north of the Balcombe viaduct

Surprisingly, perhaps, fares are not always fair on our railways.

Take for example the cost of an off-peak ticket from Wivelsfield to Lewes: After 9am, the return is £5.30, yet a similar ticket from Burgess Hill is only £4.90 and permits travel via Wivelsfield.

So, the moral is – buy the longer journey ticket for less. Even more confusingly, the peak return fares (before 9am) are identical at £9.10 from both stations, so why not the off-peak?

German businessmen, visiting a firm on the Burgess Hill industrial estate, were bemused as a non-stop train hurtled past them and then, some moments later as the express vanished into the distance, for an automated announcement to advise that a fast train was approaching.

Apparently, such things don’t happen on the Deutschland rail system. Given the involvement of German’s state-owned rail company in Arriva, one of Britain’s biggest train firms, perhaps some of the continental efficiency could be passed on?

Another automatic system to cause bemusement is the on-board train announcements. Heading through the East Sussex countryside towards Lewes the other day, the lady was adamant that the next station was Clapham Junction. Uum? No, I don’t think so. In fact, having been told where the train was going, which carriage to be in for all the stations with short platforms, the need to keep aisles clear of luggage and myriad other nuggets of news, any hope of a nap was completely out of a question.

Sometimes, in this age of ‘keeping the customer informed at all times’, we can be told too much. Put a sock in it!

As ever, please send your commuting experiences to