Dale Haslam's train blog: Easy pricing would be just the ticket

Dale Haslam

Dale Haslam

First published in Politics
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

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.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:08am Mon 13 Jan 14

soup153 says...

Talk to a train spotter on any station and they will give you the best prices to anywhere, and throw in the last time the unit was serviced.
Talk to a train spotter on any station and they will give you the best prices to anywhere, and throw in the last time the unit was serviced. soup153
  • Score: 0

12:38pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Davetherave2014 says...

Far flung football stadiums like the sports direct arena?
Far flung football stadiums like the sports direct arena? Davetherave2014
  • Score: 1

11:08am Tue 14 Jan 14

Darren1951 says...

The whole railway ticketing system in this country is an appalling shambles. Like almost everying else in our fragmented railway system. it is devised to make maximum profit whilst ignoring the needs of fare-paying passengers.,
The whole railway ticketing system in this country is an appalling shambles. Like almost everying else in our fragmented railway system. it is devised to make maximum profit whilst ignoring the needs of fare-paying passengers., Darren1951
  • Score: 0

6:06pm Tue 14 Jan 14

BWFC71 says...

To be fare there are various reasons for the varying rail prices.

For instance the price of all local-fares in Greater Manchester are heavily subsidised by the TfGM but as soon as you go over the border into Lancashire, Blackburn, Merseyside, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Warrington the fares suddenly increase because the subsidies are of varying levels.

On the longer distance services such as Virgin trains and the First TPE to Glasgow/Edinburgh work on a very similar system to airline fares - the cheaper they are as soon as they are released and then, like airlines, have special promotional fares. But each TOC have their own price structure on these services - but this is what you get for a "free" market system.

Now if we had a system, for the whole country, like what The Netherlands has then it would be farer:
- no difference in price between peak and off-peak, although some tickets cannot be used during peak
- you pay for each kilometre you travel (same applies on ALL variations of public travel)
- return fares are 1/3 less than 2 single tickets
- the price rise goes on ALL tickets and no selected tickets
- also if you pay at a manned desk it costs an extra €0.50, or if you use a credit card in a machine it costs an extra €0.50 - debit cards do not cost extra
- they have 1 travelcard (they call an OV Chipkaart which is very similar to the TfL Oyster card) which can be used on ALL variations of public transport throughout the whole country which can be topped up at stations, on buses, in supermarkets, online etc etc etc but normal tickets can also be bought

Only difference are the international trains (from Amsterdam Centraal to Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Czech just to name a few) which act like airlines - cheaper they are as soon as they are released.
To be fare there are various reasons for the varying rail prices. For instance the price of all local-fares in Greater Manchester are heavily subsidised by the TfGM but as soon as you go over the border into Lancashire, Blackburn, Merseyside, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Warrington the fares suddenly increase because the subsidies are of varying levels. On the longer distance services such as Virgin trains and the First TPE to Glasgow/Edinburgh work on a very similar system to airline fares - the cheaper they are as soon as they are released and then, like airlines, have special promotional fares. But each TOC have their own price structure on these services - but this is what you get for a "free" market system. Now if we had a system, for the whole country, like what The Netherlands has then it would be farer: - no difference in price between peak and off-peak, although some tickets cannot be used during peak - you pay for each kilometre you travel (same applies on ALL variations of public travel) - return fares are 1/3 less than 2 single tickets - the price rise goes on ALL tickets and no selected tickets - also if you pay at a manned desk it costs an extra €0.50, or if you use a credit card in a machine it costs an extra €0.50 - debit cards do not cost extra - they have 1 travelcard (they call an OV Chipkaart which is very similar to the TfL Oyster card) which can be used on ALL variations of public transport throughout the whole country which can be topped up at stations, on buses, in supermarkets, online etc etc etc but normal tickets can also be bought Only difference are the international trains (from Amsterdam Centraal to Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Czech just to name a few) which act like airlines - cheaper they are as soon as they are released. BWFC71
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree