please empty your brain below

These still look cheap to me. Is going from London cheaper than going to London? A peak day return to London from Newhaven (near Brighton, and still Southern) is £38-odd. If those fares work both ways I'd be better off going via Brighton. The times I travel peak are very rare though, which is why I stopped getting a season ticket and rely on DaySaves (£10) and Super Off-peak.

Um - from Local Small Town, peak is £37.50 return Mr BW tells me (I refuse to use it at that price and go to the end of the central line in my car which works out lots cheaper), and off peak is £16.50 (both including travelcard).

I don't understand that discrepancy cf your examples, given that we are considerably closer to Das Capital than several of the places on your list.

Is it any wonder that we always use the car to come into London when there are two of us?

Car owners will never use public transport while fares are so ridiculously high, and the service so unpredictably poor at weekends.

For many places, at peak times,
London Outwards appears to be much cheaper than London Inwards.

London to Newhaven and back: £21.70
Newhaven to London and back: £37.70

London to Basingstoke and back: £17.50
Basingstoke to London and back: £31.80

But not always...

London to Bedford and back: £33
Bedford to London and back: £33

London to Ipswich and back: £58
Ipswich to London and back: £58

OK, here's one more table.

For towns 50 miles from London, what's the cost of a peak time return to London?
(Returns from London in brackets)

1] Cambridge £30.00 (£25.00)
2] Basingstoke £31.80 (£17.50)
3] Milton Keynes £32.40 (£32.40)
4] Bedford £33.00 (£33.00)
5] Ashford £37.30 (£22.60)
6] Brighton £37.70 (£18.00)
7] Colchester £38 (£23.30)
8] Arundel £39.30 (£21.70)
9] Hastings £42.50 (£25.40)
10] Oxford £43.10 (£43.10)

Prices into London seem to be a lot more uniform than prices out of London.
Uniformly high, unfortunately.

For about the same price as going to Calais with Eurostar you can go to Brussels then onward (included in your fare) to anywhere in Belgium . For the very small additional cost of an over-the-border train or bus you can get to places like Maastrict in the Netherlands and Aachen or Monschau in Germany. So I plan ahead and have a weekend abroad with the transport costs of getting there and back from St. Pancras of around £65-£70. How about that for geographical and temporal bias ?

And somewhere a bit closer to home. Ask for a peak-hour return to Amersham from a National Rail station (or get it from the ticket machine) in sarf London and they give you outward and return tickets and charge you £15. Ask for a peak-hour return to sarf London at Amersham and they will sell you a Travelcard for £15 with free travel in London for the day thrown in.

The self service ticket machines have become slightly more inscrutable since the new titles for the various tickets. There's a moderate chance to be caught out with the wrong fare if insufficient concentration wading through all of the similar sounding options.

Believe me I am not caught out. The problem is that the ticket machines in sarf London do not offer you the option of a Travelcard for Zones 1-9 but only offer a return ticket at the same price. A switched-on clerk in the booking office may act on his own initiative and provide you with a travelcard originating at Amersham which is the way to get around it. Ticket machines are dumb.

Some of these peak day fares aren't much less expensive than the weekly season equivalent. Example: Bath peak day fare is £133. Seven day season ticket: £191.90. Lichfield day fare £126, season ticket is £206 (or £115, *less* than the day fare, if you're prepared to put up with the slower London Midland service into Euston). Gloucester, £125 for a day against £200/£215 for a week. And so on.

My advice to travellers towards Milton Keynes would be to get London Midland fares - they're cheaper, and the service to towns south of Northampton is a good deal more comprehensive than that provided by the (far more expensive) Virgin. LM's trains to Milton Keynes and Northampton are only 10-15 minutes slower than Virgin's anyway, though beyond those points the difference starts to become more marked.

Bring back British Rail, all is forgiven... at least ticket prices were clear and consistent.

"Stay close-ish to London and fares don't tend to rise hugely at peak times"

Hmmmm... I read that as: "Stay close to London and the off-peak discounts disappear".

A turn-up-and-go rush hour commute can be a bit cheaper if buying singles - e.g Bath is £66.50 out (i.e. half the £133) in the morning rush hour but you can return during the evening rush hour with an off-peak single (£47). Still extortionate though!

To be fair to Eurostar their tickets are pre-allocated by cost, like with budget airlines. So you *can* get £29 each way to any Eurostar destination at relatively short notice (less if you're under 26), provided you're not too fussed over the exact day and time. Calais is a tricky one because only a few trains stop there, so the cheap allocations seem to disappear very early.

Hey DG, thanks for using some of my tips from yesterday!

It certainly does seem though that you pay through the nose if you buy a ticket at the station on the day, and for the privilege of flexibility (e.g. being able to choose which train to catch). While you can get cheap fares to places like Norwich in advance, it is clearly many times more expensive on the day. I was in Norwich a little while ago, and needed to catch a train back home. I found two tickets I could buy. One was £15 and the other £30, the former via. Cambridge, and the latter straight into London. I have also seen how going out of London seems to be significantly cheaper than going into London.

Is it too much, really, to ask for a little bit more consistency in our train fares? Perhaps it's time to re-nationalise, at least partially, our rail network, or at least allow the government a bit more control over the fares that we have to pay.

And of course there is always the problem of availability of the advance tickets. On the occasions that I've looked for Stoke to London they're frequently not available on the trains you want - if at all.

I read somewhere that because season tickets are regulated but peak time fares aren't you can use a formula to work out how much the train company has racked up the prices since privatisation.

As I said on the last thread, fare rises in general are agreed by the government, so nationalisation is not going to change anything.

The thing that's happened since privatisation is a massive (50\\%) increase in demand. That's why the government is happy for the train companies to put up fares and price people off the network, because the government simply isn't prepared to put up the [enormous amount of] dosh to provide significant extra capacity.

(and remember that the train companies don't actually get to keep much of the fare increase revenue - the way the franchise bidding system works it's already been promised to the government in the premium/subsidy profile)

Nico: The reason season tickets are still relatively cheap is because they're "regulated", meaning fare rises are capped at slightly above inflation. Peak returns are unregulated*, meaning they've regularly received above inflation increases. The net result is that casual users are being priced off the peak trains to make room for season ticket holders paying bugger-all in cost-per-mile terms.

Mr Thant: it might feel like bugger-all to you in cost-per-mile, but at a sixth of my salary, my season ticket feels reasonably expensive to me! It takes me down to about what you'd pay for a day Travelcard, if one were available on that service, although doesn't include Tube. Yes, it's a big discount, but in return the operating company gets guaranteed revenue for a number of trains each day...

Hi there!

interesting article on rail tickets.

I gotta say its worth a sneaky visit to Bournemouth thought, looks like a great hot year ahead!

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