Reporter Dale Haslam continues his regular blog on his daily train journey in and out of Bolton
WHILE travelling to work and back on the trains is not always a pleasant experience, I do enjoy the odd weekend trip away on the railway.
Whether it is to go and watch my favourite football team play at some far-flung stadium or visit friends, I often find the train to be the easiest way to get there.
But one element of the journey (or at least the planning of it) that causes passengers endless confusion is the ticket pricing system — how on earth do the powers-that-be arrive at the wacky fares?
For example, if I wanted to go from Manchester to Cardiff one way on Saturday, February 22, it costs £16, but if you want to join the very same train at Ludlow — almost half way through the journey — it costs £27.20.
Presumably, bosses of Arriva Trains Wales expect the good folk of Shropshire to pretend they are travelling for an extra two hours if they are to get the best price.
Sometimes, you can save £30 or more on the cost of a return ticket if you are prepared to spend 20 boring minutes searching for tickets that would break up your journey.
If you were going from Bolton to London, for example, it may work out cheaper if, rather than buying a straightforward return ticket, you bought a return ticket for Bolton to Manchester and another return from Manchester to London.
But why should the best-value deal be such hard to come by?
Often, the problem is down to one ticket being valid on trains run by many companies, all with their own special promotions and discounts.
It would be nice, for once, if they worked together and gave passengers at a better deal at a time many need it most.