UK train companies have an expensive fare (“Peak”) for early morning commuters, and a normal fare for everyone else. Each company has unique rules on time/validity. Southern Rail’s section on fares on their website recognizes this, but refuses to say when their normal (“Off Peak”) fares are valid. (see below for official times as of August 2013)
(They happily give you specific times + dates for “Super Off-Peak”, which is a special discounted fare)
They claim their online booking system will give a yes/no answer if you use it to book tickets. But I tried it, and this is not true. Instead, it said I *always* had to purchase the “expensive” fares. I proved it wrong by walking to the train station and buying one of these tickets that Southern Rail claimed didn’t exist!
I wrote to their customer support. 7 days later, here’s their reply in full:
Thank you for contacting us on 19 August 2013 regarding off-peak times. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in our response.
Super Off peak Day is valid anytime Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays,
or Monday to Friday where trains to London Victoria arrive after 10:55.
Super Off peak Day is available where the off peak Day Return is £8.20 or more on routes served by Southern.
Return journey not valid on trains that depart London Victoria between 16:15 and 19:15 Monday to Friday.
Off peak tickets are valid for travel after the morning peak period (09:30am) and come back anytime the same day.
Travel on trains after 09:30 is permitted and on some routes you can start earlier.
For journeys from outside the London Travelcard Area you can travel on trains that arrive in London Bridge or Victoria at 10:00 or later.
Off peak day – Start after 09.30am and come back anytime the same day.
Off peak return – Start after 09.30am and return any day within one calendar month
First Class Off peak- As above, by first class.
If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us on 08451 272 920.