Splitting your train tickets - more train fare madness

Posted on 11 June 2010 in Transport (1 comment)

Trying to fit the Dales Way, Coast to Coast and finishing off the Pennine Way this summer has meant a plethora of train ticket booking, and through it I've managed to find a number of bonkers train fare situations - one where the advance ticket costs more than the on the day ticket, and another where arriving two minutes later saved me £70.

Ulvertson Train Station

Both those two involved advance train tickets and obscure routes.

Today I found an insane situation involving on the day tickets.

To provide some context, I'm going to walk the Dales Way in August. I'll arrive in Windermere on a Friday, stay the night then get the train to Newcastle where I'll meet Catherine and we'll head off to finish the Pennine Way.

The journey from Windermere is a three hour journey involving three trains and goes like this:

  1. Windermere to Oxenholme by Transpennine Express
  2. Oxenholme to Carlisle by Virgin Trains
  3. Carlisle to Newcastle by Northern Rail or Scotrail, depending on the train

Through ticket price for the whole journey £35.90 - an anytime single.

Now I might be able to buy an advance ticket for the Oxenholme to Carlisle section but they're not yet available (there's no advance tickets available on the other two sections) so I idly pondered what the individual costs of stages 1 and 3 were. So I looked it up.

Windermere to Oxenholme is £4.30 for an Anytime single.

Carlisle to Newcastle is £12.90 for an Anytime Single.

Hmm, I thought. That must mean that the Oxenholme to Carlisle section is really expensive!

I tapped in the details to check it out.

Computer said £10.80

Now whilst I did a Maths degree but my mental arithemtic is a bit dodgy. But even so that didn't look right. I fired up the computer calculator and double checked.

And triple checked.

No matter what way I typed it - whether I put in the cheapest price first or last; whether I typed it with left hand or my right; the result still came out the same. £28.

Yep, I could buy three tickets to cover the exact same trains and it would cost me £7.90 less.

I decided to work out where the madness lies. So I checked out the fare foe Windermere to Carlisle. If I was to buy a through ticket it would cost me £18.50, 70p more than splitting it. But Oxenholme to Newcastle would cost me £31.60 - again £7.90 more than the two tickets.

I'm sure this absurd situation makes sense to someone, but not to me. I've heard of savings involving splitting tickets and staying on the same train before, or of getting advance tickets for part of the journey. But never have I come across a situation where where breaking down a train journey involving several trains and with normal walk on fares costs can save me about 20% of the price.

I'm sure it makes sense to someone - certainly makes sense to the railway companies who would be lining their pockets with a whopping extra £7.90 from me otherwise… But it makes no sense at all to me...

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Sean said:

I had a similar situation where heading up to Leeds from Birmingham was gonna cost upwards of £30 with a 16-25 railcard for an offpeak return.
Splitting the journey up from Birmingham to Derby, Derby to Sheffield then Sheffield to Leeds cost me just over £20 on the same train still.
It's Mad

Posted on 24 June 2010 at 12:43 AM

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