Fare hikes on UK trains for 2013

From the London Independent. New fares went into effect at the start of the year.

British trains are the priciest in Europe. I find this article helpful because it cites sample fares that illustrate just how costly train tickets can be. I can attest to the byzantine labyrinth (is that a mixed metaphor?) of changing fares between, say London and Edinburgh depending on how far ahead you buy a ticket. Bad news for me; I can seldom plan my days so far ahead that I can take advantage of the savings. It doesn’t help that British Rail is not a single public entity any more. These private contractors don’t necessarily compete on the same route; so much for privatization.

Mind you, the fares vary hugely depending on how far in advance you can plan. In the interest of research, I went to the East Cost Rail website to price same day return (round trip) tickets between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley. If I wanted a ticket for the day after purchase, it would cost almost £197 (that’s $315 at $1.60 to the pound). If I book a month ahead, the price drops to £88 ($141) and if I can plan two months ahead, the fare drops to £46 ($74). Yikes! Definitely food for thought. Maybe I’ll have to plan and book ahead after all.

Similarly, locals and frequent visitors to London know that fares on the London Underground (Tube) rise almost every year and the only sane way to protect your wallet is to invest in an Oyster card – it has all the savings of a one-day travel card with the additional benefits that you’re covered if you go outside of zones 1 and 2 and you don’t need to queue up at either the window or the machines to get a new card every day. I also like being able to add money to my existing Oyster card each time I come to London. They don’t expire with non-use, not yet at least.

This entry was posted in All Suzanne's travel essays, General magpie travel, London travel, News from Europe, UK news and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fare hikes on UK trains for 2013

  1. lanceleuven says:

    Unfortunately our rail fares are indeed an overpriced minefield. I was particualry shocked to discover that ‘peak’ time begins when the trains start first thing in the morning. I discovered this when I was buying a ticket at 6:20am, I was still charged peak fare!

    Also, I was also told recently that it’s cheaper to book online even if you are using the train immediately. So apparently you can stand in front of the ticket machine, phone in hand, go online, book a ticket, get a reference number, and then type the reference number straight into the ticket machine to receive a reduced fare ticket. Haven’t tested this myself, but it’s also food for thought!

    • suzykewct says:

      I can’t help but think that these idiotic fares are related to privatization. Arguments in favor of any government getting out of the service industry are just a smokescreen puffed out by rich guys who see an opportunity to make more money than they have any right to covet.

      My last experience with long distance train tickets in the UK was in 2000 when I went from London to York to pick up a rental car and continue on to Scotland. Granted, I was in a well-paid job at the time, but I was traveling with a friend who was on a much tighter budget. Even so, I don’t think we booked more than a few days ahead and the train fare didn’t break the bank.
      Because I had not researched train fares on my trip last year, I had to skip going up to Edinburgh to see the Catherine the Great exhibit there. Fooey.

      The research I did for this post was, naturally, online. I’ll have to plan to book some tickets as far ahead of time as I can – realizing that I don’t usually book my trans Atlantic air ticket until the last minute, seldom more than 3 weeks in advance.
      Live and learn, I suppose. Thanks for your feedback!

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