We bought advance tickets online and subsequently found out that we would not be able to travel due to illness in the family. At this point, we were told that the tickets were non-refundable and that we would be charged a 'passenger fee' of £10 a ticket to change the dates. This turned out to be a journey fee, so we were actually charged £40 (for the return journeys!). It then transpired that the original ticket fee is not offset against the new tickets (which, needless to say, were much more expensive) but is only refunded to you when you post (by registered post) your tickets and a print out of your new booking confirmation.
We will only book directly with the train operators going forward as they will often refund where a genuine reason for cancellation of advance tickets is given. We will not be using the trainline again.
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