This continues the rail ticket saga from my last post.
Armed with my home-produced Photocard picture, I went to the station this morning - a Saturday - at about 11.30am, expecting to find it quiet. It was anything but. I was appalled to see how many train travellers there were, all queueing for attention. Clearly, the weekday queues (such as on Monday morning) would snake out the door!
It's certainly nice to see that rail travel is thriving nowadays, with passengers clamouring for tickets like never before in the entire history of railways in Britain. But it does mean that turning up at a popular station, and expecting to get served straight away, is an unrealistic dream. A traveller might well miss their train, if stuck instead in a long queue on the wrong side of the station!
So I felt amply vindicated in my belief that purchasing a season ticket - and thereby avoiding the queues - was a very sensible idea. It would guarantee that I'd catch the train I wanted, and ensure that I got to the Court on time. A late arrival would of course be very seriously embarrassing!
Well, there was no trouble about my home-produced picture. The Photocard itself took just a few seconds to create. I then asked for a weekly season ticket to Hove. With a receipt. Photocard and season ticket went into a handy little wallet, with room for my Senior Railcard too (although I wouldn't be using the Railcard for my peak-period journeys to Hove and back):
Being a great one for conversation, I mentioned to the helpful young man serving me that I was on Jury Service for the next two weeks. 'Oh,' he said ominously,'You might not be able to reclaim the cost of this season ticket.'
He went on to say that so far as he knew - getting this from other passengers - the Court were fussy about season tickets, and wanted jurors to buy daily tickets. Really?
'But,' I said, 'Although I'm buying a weekly season ticket partly for my own convenience, it will of course work out about £35 a week cheaper for the Court. Which is a big saving of public money!'
'I know, but they stick rigidly to their rules.'
'Well, I hope you're wrong about this. It would be silly and unfair of the Court to deny me reimbursement, when a weekly ticket actually saves them money!'
And here are the figures. I intend to buy two consecutive weekly season tickets costing £25.20 each. Total, £50.40. Buying ten £8.50 daily peak-period return tickets instead - the Court's expectation, apparently - would come to £85.00. My way saves the Court £34.60 in reimbursed travel costs. It's got to be the proper thing to do.
Back home, I had another look at the small print in the notes on what allowances and reimbursements a juror might claim:
'If you travel by bus, train or underground the Court will pay the cost of the ticket (the 2nd class return fare, if travelling by train)'
Now did they mean that I was entitled to claim - and they expected me to claim - £85.00, even if I'd found a legitimate way to travel for £34.60 less? Surely that couldn't be right. If it were, then what a waste of public funds! A juror shouldn't be making a significant profit on expenses!
They must mean, surely, that I should claim what I actually have spent on my rail fares, up to £85 anyway. That had to be the right interpretation. Maybe.
Then I discovered some further advice, tucked away at the tail end of the notes:
'Initially you should only purchase daily travel tickets unless you are instructed otherwise by the court. You must also keep copies of the original travel tickets or a receipt to submit with your expenses claim. Without original copies or a receipt your travel costs may not be reimbursed'
I suppose they mean here that I shouldn't anticipate Jury Service of, say, a month and on this supposition buy a monthly season ticket - and then expect them to meet the cost. But I knew that I'd be doing a minimum of two weeks, and so - one might think - there would be no clear harm in getting season tickets up front sufficient to cover these two weeks. Or could that be an unreasonable notion? Had I jumped the gun in an objectionable way, and would be punished for it by withholding reimbursement?
And yet this second passage implied that they would reimburse all receipted travel expenditure up to the overriding limit set by the first passage. So perhaps I would, after all, get my £50.40 back?
It wasn't actually fog on fog, but the position still wasn't absolutely clear. I'd have to ask at the Court about it on Monday. (Wish me luck)