More train fare madness

Published on 1 June 2010 in , , , , ,

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the absurd situation where the cheapest advance train ticket for a journey I wanted to make cost more than the less restrictive, buy-on-the-day ticket for the same journey.

This seemed bonkers to me, because it is bonkers.

The price quoted for two people on this journey was rather ridiculous – £195 advance ticket and £188 for the Off Peak Single. So I ummed and ahhed and found a cheaper way of doing it which involved going an hour earlier.

However this in itself lead to more insane ticket price madness.

The journey we’re going to make is from London to St Bees. St Bees is on the line that runs around the coast of Cumbria between Carlisle and Lancaster, so you can get to St Bees by changing at Lancaster or changing at Carlisle. The main choice is whether you want a slightly faster route where you have to change twice, or the slightly slower route where you have to change once. But the time difference is literally in minutes – for the journey I looked at it came in at a 2 minute difference – that’s how insignificant it is.

Both journeys would involve the same two train companies – Virgin Trains and Transpennine Express – and would involve roughly the same time being spent on each company’s trains.

The ticket prices I saw were identical either way. Well mostly.

Turned out that for the journey we wanted to make the fastest journey was to change at Preston then at Carlisle and go along the coastal line from the north. The price for two remained at £188 (off peak single).

Yet all I had to do was change once at Lancaster, go along the southern section of the coastal line and arrive a whole 2 minutes later. The price for two? An Advance ticket price of £118…

Yep, seventy quid less for arriving two minutes later…