Saturday, February 25, 2017

UK absurdity

Last minute long distance train travel in England is absurdly expensive. A last minute purchase of an economy train ticket to travel in peak times to a popular destination can cost nearly £200 (US$250, AU$320, €230) for a a bit more that a two hour trip. Buy the ticket well in advance, it might only cost £25. Numerous private companies provide England's long distance train services and the biggest player is Richard Branson's Virgin Trains, and the the pricing shows just what happens when capitalism is allowed to run rampant with a public service.

One very clever teenager who was appalled at a very high fare of £47 to travel home by train worked out a way to travel to his home for only £43. It involved catching two local trains, two local buses and flying to Berlin and back with Ryan Air. Yes, it took much longer but he enjoyed the journey.


I can't find the figures now, but see the red line on the map representing the train trip from London to Lancaster. I am not talking a small difference here. Just below Lancaster is the city of Preston. It is much cheaper to buy a ticket to Lancaster and then just get off at Preston if that is your destination. A train conductor actually tried to stop one passenger from leaving the train at Preston when he had booked through to Lancaster. I would love to see that end up in court. Conductor uses physical force to stop a passenger leaving a train early before he had completed his paid for journey?

Eurostar through the chunnel , France, Belgium and England is similar.

Australia's long distance train travel is rubbish, but at least it at a fixed at an albeit expensive price. Lordy, how is the US long distance train cost constructed?

17 comments:

  1. No-one understands the long distance train fares Andrew. When I go to Manchester I buy a particular kind of ticket which isn't the cheapest but means I can come back on any train and not a specific one. However when I book it I have to book a specific train because the system can't cope if you don't book a seat on a particular train even though I probably won't be on that train!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maire, good to get a first hand experience. No wonder it gets messy when someone sits in a booked seat who hasn't booked that seat. That must cause a lot of problems when people want the seat they have booked. What a nightmare.

      Delete
  2. I don't know about Australia's trains but our airlines can follow similar price practices. In my retirement I have adopted the luxury practice of travelling business class wherever it is available. I notice that some of my regular flights are priced $771 when booked months ahead but $1441 when booked weeks or days ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Victor, can you recall whether there were fixed prices when we had TAA and Ansett.

      Delete
    2. No idea Andrew. Those pre-internet days any travel was booked through a travel agent and I just paid what the agent said was the fare.

      Delete
  3. I often catch the train up to my sisters she lives up near Coffs Harbour but have been warned not to go to Brisbane or Melbourne by train a long and boring journey I've been told but it's vey cheap. Merle.................

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merle, trains to Brisbane or Melbourne are very slow, and I haven't taken either trip, but just gazing out the windows as the scenery slips past is nice.

      Delete
  4. That's a low blow for tourists too, who might want to train around the country and see the sights.
    I'm astonished at those prices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River, as we did, most tourists know to book in advance when organising their holiday. Even so, in a manner we were cheated on the train from Amsterdam to Brussels.

      Delete
  5. Compared to Belgium the tickets are not expensive in the UK, and at least you have a service. Here the trains are mostly late, or the personnel is on strike ! Eurostar from Brussels to London is very reasonable if you buy it a few days in advance, but from Brussels to Paris you pay more than 200 € which is a shame !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gattina, surely you exaggerate the strikes. I wonder why it is so expensive to go to France? Is it because it is a high tourist route? Our friends who we travelled with went to Paris, but we changed trains at Brussels and headed for London.

      Delete
  6. The last time I was on a train, apart from in Perth I to the city, was the Eurostar to Paris, I don't remember being shocked by the price and for some unknown reason we were bumped up to first class without paying extra, so I have only fond memories ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace, Eurostar works the same way, book well in advance and it is much cheaper. For us it was not much more to upgrade to first, mind first class is not what it used to be.

      Delete
  7. Why do you say Aussie long distant train travel is rubbish? I would imagine, for one, The Ghan would be a terrific trip. Are you referring just to the cost thereof? I think long, leisurely train trips would be a relaxing way to go...everything these days has to be fast, fast fast...time to take a few breaths and smell the roses, I think. We might be better off if we did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee, long distant travel is just not taken seriously here. Aside from the Ghan, which would be good, the Indian Pacific is fairly rough trip, I believe, on substandard track with the vehicles showing their age. What I did have in mind when I said rubbish was the train between Melbourne and Sydney.

      Delete
  8. I fancied a trip on the Ghan, a few days on a train to Darwin and back, but once I saw the cost that fancy disappeared faster than ice cream in a heatwave. And that was when I was working full time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River, yes The Ghan is not a cheap train trip. It might be relatively a bit cheaper now.

      Delete