strange_raptors: Ellipsis (Angry)
strange_raptors ([personal profile] strange_raptors) wrote2011-09-22 09:10 pm

Rail fares explained

[WARNING: This post may make you lose any remaining faith you had in the railway network in this country]

Recently, Erethorn discovered that by breaking his tickets into two (instead of buying a ticket for the whole of journey A->C, he bought a ticket from A->B and a ticket from B->C) the price did not, as you would expect, go up but instead went down.

This evening, just out of interest, I decided to look at the various prices resulting from breaking a journey from Oxford to Birmingham. Here are my results. All prices quoted are for a return for a single adult, travelling at off-peak times, using a 16-25 railcard. Ticket type is detailed in brackets.

Full journey
Oxford-Birmingham International: £20.60 (Off-peak return)

2 breaks:
Oxford-Banbury: £3.50 (Off-peak day return), Banbury-Birmingham International: £9.25 (Anytime day return). Total journey cost: £12.75

Oxford-Leamington Spa: £10.45 (Off-peak return), Leamington Spa-Birmingham International: £4.15 (Off-peak day return). Total journey cost: £14.60

Oxford-Coventry: £17.65 (Off-peak return), Coventry-Birmingham International: £1.15 (Off-peak day return). Total journey cost: £18.80

3 breaks:
Oxford-Banbury: £3.50 (Off-peak day return), Banbury-Leamington Spa: £4.60 (Off-peak day return), Leamington Spa-Birmingham International: £4.15 (Off-peak day return). Total journey cost: £12.25
 
Oxford-Leamington Spa: £10.45 (Off-peak return), Leaminton Spa-Coventry: £3.10 (Anytime day return), Coventry-Birmingham International: £1.15 (Off-peak day return). Total journey cost: £14.70

4 breaks:
Total cost: £3.50 + £4.60 + £3.10 + £1.15 = £12.35 (from journey details above, I just got bored writing out all the station names and ticket types).

This means that, assuming you want to travel to Birmingham and back on the same day, you will save 40% by buying three individual returns (the Oxford-Banbury-Leamington Spa-Birmingham International route above). 

Maybe you're thinking that it's a bit unfair to the rail companies to compare day returns with standard returns (which are valid for a month). I'd argue that, if they gave me the option of buying an off-peak day return to Birmingham, that would be unfair. Given that they don't, and force me to part with almost twice my money for the same journey, I don't think it's unfair at all. 

Feel free to share this post if you think it's relevant to people who use the trains often, and who aren't particularly phased by ordering all their tickets online and then picking them all up at the train station.

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