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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Train fares again

I've carried out a few queries on the National Rail website, looking at three different journeys. I'm astounded to find the huge savings that can be made by NOT buying a through train ticket from starting point to destination. Here are the routes/fares I considered.

  1. Swansea to Bristol. Not too expensive at £12.50 for a through return ticket. However, if you purchase a £4.90 return from Swansea to Cardiff, then a £6 return from Cardiff to Bristol, you'll knock £1.60 off your travel costs. You don't have to change trains or even disembark and re-board. Why should you? You'll have valid tickets for all parts of the journey.

  2. Swansea to London Paddington. The cheapest direct return will cost you £45.50. But you can knock that price down to £30.30 if you get a return from Swansea to Cardiff costing £4.90, then a return from Cardiff to Bristol at £6.00, followed by a return from Bristol to London at £19.40. Bizarrely, if you wanted to purchase a return from Swindon to London, it would cost you £37.00, even though Swindon is closer to London than either Bristol or Cardiff. Yet again, no need to leave the train. Just show the appropriate ticket for the appropriate leg of the journey.

  3. Swansea to Oxford. A through return is £54.00, with changes at Swindon and Didcot Parkway. Want to know how to pay less than half this sum, to get to Oxford and back? It's simple. Get a £4.90 return from Swansea to Cardiff, then a cheap £10 return from Cardiff to Swindon. Get off the train at Swindon, as you would if you had a through ticket, then buy a cheap £7.00 return from Swindon to Didcot Parkway. Get off at Didcot, and buy a cheap £4.80 return from Didcot to Oxford, saving you a whopping £27.30 on your journey. Not bad, eh?

I've discovered another ticketing anomaly. As mentioned above, a direct ticket from Swansea to Oxford, a journey of around 140 miles, costs £54. Yet a direct ticket from Swansea to Manchester, some 230 miles away, is only £25. Where's the sense in that? The pricing of train tickets in this country needs a serious overhaul, due to its ridiculous and unfair lack of uniformity. No wonder people are reluctant to travel by train. My advice is use your noggin, do a bit of research, and you'll end up paying far less for your train tickets, without committing a single illegal act. Happy journey-planning!


The Pig's Lip said...

Cracking piece of research. I remember when Tesco, for some odd reason, made i cheaper to buy two packs of 3 cartons of orange juice than to buy 1 six pack of orange juice. Madness.

Siani said...

I've seen silly things like that in supermarkets, too. Alas, I can't take the credit for the original idea behind my research. The Guardian did a similar and more in-depth expose of train ticket rip-offs a few months ago, so I just decided to re-test their theories.