Buying rail tickets online in the UK

TicketFriday last was a bit of a challenge on Southern Railway – there seemed not to be any staffed ticket offices on the stations that I visited and a number of ticket machines were also out of order. I intended to travel to Gatwick Airport on Thameslink (First Capital Connect) – never a good idea to travel without a ticket. So I went online and bought a ticket for the journey. When using online booking sites – in my case – one has to designate a machine from which to receive the ticket after purchase. I did this, only to find that the ticket machine was not working.

I arrived at Gatwick Airport and sought guidance from a ticket inspector at the gate. I showed him the receipt for the transaction from my mobile. I asked him how I could get my ticket. Easy, apparently. All that stuff about designated machines is nonsense. Tickets can be printed from any machine on the network. This simple piece of information could have saved me some grief.

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