London Red Rope Walks are based on public transport, most often trains, and it is the walk organiser’s job to check times.
- Plan ahead — but not too far! Have a look at train times as soon as you decide to organise a particular walk, as what you have in mind may be simply impossible. However, re-check all train times on the Wednesday or Thursday before the walk, in case there are engineering works. That may mean just a slightly revised timetable, but if a long journey is going to be even longer because you have to go part of the way by a “rail replacement bus”, consider doing a different walk!
- Train times can be checked on the National Rail Enquiries web site and, so long as you know the name of the country station the walk itself starts at, this system will work out which London terminus you need to travel from:
- TfL (tubes, etc): If the start of the walk is within London, the Transport for London web site will work out how to get there by train, tube, bus or even on foot — but you do need to give it a starting point such as your home postcode. If the walk will start from an Underground or Overground station, it is usually OK to make that the rendezvous and let people make their own way there; but you should probably say that people need to be on the first train to arrive after the rendezvous time, and be prepared to wait for the one after that. The Metropolitan Line is a bit of a special case, going right out into the country: we usually rendezvous at Baker Street:
- Buses: There are many fine walking areas near London, like the Ashdown Forest, which are too far from a station but can be reached by bus. Unfortunately, non-London buses are harder to get information about than trains. Traveline seems to be the best places to start. Do remember that some London bus routes, covered by the TfL route planner and the Oyster Card system, go out of London to places like Westerham in Kent.
- Rendezvous times: You won’t be able to choose a time that pleases absolutely everyone. If there are lots of travel options, what best suits most people is meeting at 10 or 5 to 10, to catch a 10.15 train, assuming the train journey is then not much more than an hour. If the length of the journey or the available train times mean you would not start walking until after 11.30, start thinking about trains leaving before 10 (or a different walk).
- Other meeting places: It is helpful to list other places/times the party should be, such as the time at Clapham Junction for trains out of Victoria or Waterloo, or the actual start of the walk. However, sometimes there are unexpected problems with public transport and that schedule cannot be followed: bad disruption can mean that the main group end up doing some quite different walk, so joining the party somewhere other than the main rendezvous has to be at your own risk.
- Checking costs: we don’t currently have a maximum allowable fare for day walks, but you should find out what the travel cost will be and list it in your announcement, so people can decide for themselves whether they can afford to go on the walk (but members with low incomes need never pay more than £5 or £10 — see below). What fare people will pay will vary, partly depending on what discount cards they have. The fare with a Network Railcard is maybe the best one to announce.
- Saving money on fares: one reason for meeting up at a London terminus, and travelling together, is to get cheap fares. They can be substantially reduced by using Network Railcards (1/3 off for the holder, and for up to 3 accompanying adults and also 4 accompanying children) or GroupSave (also 1/3 off for groups of 3 to 9 adults). However, make sure that everyone understands that groups using these deals lose flexibility. Tickets bought with a Network Railcard are invalid unless in a group with the card holder. GroupSave is even less flexible: if one person does not travel back with the group, everyone’s ticket is invalid.
- Subsidy for members on low bands: Members in Band 1 can claim back any travel costs over and above £5 and members in Band 2 can claim back any travel costs over £7.50, by sending details to the London treasurer (firstname.lastname@example.org). NB walk organisers are not involved with this.
- Taking advantage of public transport: most walks in books are circular, because they are designed for people travelling by car. Remember that using public transport means you can end the walk at a different station from where you started, which in practice often means you can have a more varied walk.
- Your own travel plans: You should generally aim to be at the main meeting place. If you cannot be there, try to arrange for an experienced member to be there a little early and help the group assemble, and include their identity in your announcement. Not being at the main meeting place creates a very small risk that you end up not going on your own walk — rare, but it has happened when there were major problems with the trains.