Monday 6 June 2011

Rutland Railfare Revelation

This one takes the biscuit!
Ginger Nuts; appropriate, some would say, for fbb.  But, nevertheless, his favourite.

Many have often commented on the particularly potty proliferation of prices on our railways; but this farcical foray into ferro-equinological finances does involve taking a huge heap of those crunchy calorie containing cookies.  [For our world-wide readers, "cookies" in USA, are "biscuits" in UK and "biscuits" are e.g."scones".]

It began with a phone call from a pal who was baffled by the web site (Who isn't?). "Pish" and "Tush" grunts a grumpy fbb, it's very straightforward; and he strides off to laptop land for a look. The enquiry was for the adult single fare between Kettering and Corby.
And this is the answer from the official National Rail web site.
Anytime single, no restrictions, £4.10; where's your problem, pal? But perhaps a quick glance at "More Fares", just in case.
Hang on a sec!   These are all single fares, or so it says.  The Cheapest fare is £4.10 valid "Anytime", that's no restrictions on time of use.   An extra £1.60 brings first class exclusiveness.  But if fbb's chum wants to travel off-peak, the price rockets to £11.60.   But, gibber gibber, surely "off-peak" is also "anytime"?  But there's more ...
If chummy doesn't like the £4.10 Anytime price, he could, according to this extended table,  opt to pay an extra £1.90 for the same journey, now £6.   Now that would be a good plan.  If he required that little extra bit of luxury, he could also opt to add an extra £5.30 to the First Class Anytime price and pay £11.00 for the same 9 minute journey, instead of £5.70.  Is fbb going mad?

The phone conversation with fbb's confused pal also involved discussion of the once-a-day train from Oakham (in Rutland) via Corby to London.   It leaves at 0611.
So, in musing mode, fbb takes a look at fares from Oakham to Corby, just in case fbb's pal wanted to approach from the north.   So here is the full list of fares.
Presumably the £7 Anytime price only applies to the one direct journey.  The others are for the circuitous route via Leicester and Kettering, where the apparent nonsense is even more stark; just look at the First Class options! 

And there's a further snag for Mr Posh First Class traveller, who has paid £30.70 (or £52.00?) for his paper headrest and some extra space.   There are no first class seats on trains between Oakham and Leicester. 

Nevertheless, fbb strongly recommends the direct run between Kettering, Corby and Oakham.  [1910 from Kettering is the return trip, by the way]   This takes you over the Welland Valley on the utterly magnificent Harringworth Viaduct.  
Completed in 1878, it is the longest masonry viaduct anywhere in UK; 1275 yards long with 82 arches. Book from Kettering and the day return fare to Oakham is a modest £16.50 via Corby OR via Leicester, so you can do a round trip in the evening.  Warning: connections are leisurely, you'll be back at 2156!  

Well, that's what the national rail site says, BUT, fbb is sure that you can pay more if you want.

fbb feels that there MUST be some logical explanation of this apparent nonsense, by no means restricted to the East Midlands,  But cannot think of one at the moment; so asks Barry Doe, the internationally renowned author and fares expert.  And Barry replies ...
It's ever so easy. £4.10 is the anytime single, £5.70 the first class single, £6 the Standard Anytime day return, £11 the First Anytime day return and £11.60 the GroupSave fare for either three people together or four people together, which is why it's shown twice!!  Now, of course the heading says they're all single fares for one adult; and apart from the fact that most are returns and some are for three of four people, I suppose the heading is nearly correct and so everyone should be expected to understand the list, instantly ...

So the National Rail web site is Confusing, Ridiculous And Puerile, as some of our less refined readers might justifiably opine, acronymically.

Next blog : due Tuesday June 7th

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more with your final conclusion!