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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Train ticket pricing madness

I'm trying to decide what to do for my birthday. It's on a Sunday, so I'm planning to have a day out on the Monday instead. At the moment, I'm torn between visiting either Shrewsbury or Hereford. I can get a return to Shrewsbury via the Heart of Wales Line for £18, which I think is a bargain. But it involves leaving Swansea at 09.15 and returning at 22.20. That's one heck of a long day.

I've also been looking at a trip to Hereford. I've checked the price of the train tickets. How about this for ridiculous? If I book a return from Swansea to Hereford, changing at Cardiff, it will cost me a minimum of £31.40. But if I book a return from Swansea to Cardiff at £4.90, then a return from Cardiff to Hereford at £14.70, the journey will only cost £19.60. How ridiculous is that? I'll be travelling the same route, on the very same trains, at the same times, even changing at the same station, but by purchasing separate return tickets for each leg of the journey, it will cost me £11.80 less.

So if you have a train journey to make that's going to leave you badly out of pocket, just use National Rail's fare checker facility to see how much you could save by breaking your journey into two or three different legs. Don't use the Trainline or Arriva's online services, as they're very sneaky and won't give you the cheapest available fares. For instance, Arriva and the Trainline told me I'd have to pay nearly £30 to get to Shrewsbury, via Hereford, totally ignoring the cheaper journeys available on the Heart of Wales line. Anyway, I'm off to perform a few experiments now regarding train fares, to see what I come up with. I'll post the results here when I'm done.

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