Tags: travel

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More on train tickets

So, as I said in a comment on my last post I wrote an email to Greater Anglia:

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Today I got a reply as follows:

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So I've written back to them, and asked again whether the tickets were in fact valid, since that didn't seem to be answered. And just in case my letter and tickets go missing I took photos of them first, which are below for those interested.

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I presume I should expect a (small) cheque in the post!

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Train tickets are confusing

I'm sure train ticketing was supposed to have got more easy to understand. This weekend I took a train from Shelford to Harpenden - travelling down the Liverpool Street line to Tottenham Hale, getting the Victoria Line tube to Kings Cross St Pancras, and then getting a train from St Pancras to Harpenden. Apparently the off-peak return for this journey should have been £52.50 - but when I went to buy one from the ticket machine at Shelford station this ticket wasn't available. In fact the machine refused to believe Harpenden even existed - so in a rush not to miss my train I bought the first return I could think of to London - an off-peak return to London Terminals costing £22.60.

So I got to Tottenham Hale - and since I'd thought I would have a cross-London ticket with me I hadn't brought my Oyster Card - and had to pay the full price single fare from Zone 3 to Zone 1 - which is £4.30. At St Pancras I bought my return to Harpenden which was another £22.50. I had an utterly fantastic time at Heather's HenFest (see photos on Facebook) before coming home again on Sunday, and paying another £4.30 on the tube. This took my total fare to £53.70 - amazingly only £1.20 more than the off-peak return should have been. And in fact if I'd had my Oyster with me it would have been *cheaper* to split the tickets this way.

Not being 100% sure I'd actually been supposed to use a London Terminals ticket to Tottenham Hale (though the guys checking tickets on the way in and out just waved me through they did barely glance at it) I figured I'd have a quick check online - and it turns out that though an off-peak return to London Terminals (valid from Shelford to Liverpool Street) is £22.60 the off-peak return to Tottenham Hale (one stop shorter on the same train) is supposed to be £30.20! I'm now completely baffled to say the least!

I do wonder if I should complain to Greater Anglia though, given that their machine failed to sell me a ticket which would have been cheaper than the ones I did get! But I'm also wondering if in future I may be able to find other journeys which are cheaper on two tickets plus Oyster than on the cross-London fare!

(Edit: I've just checked and the zone 1-3 off-peak Oyster fare is £2.60 - which would have reduced the total price to £50.30 - so if the Terminals ticket *is* valid to Tottenham Hale it looks like it really is actually cheaper to buy two returns and use Oyster on the tube than buy a return all the way through).

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How can I get to Manchester, let me count the ways

As discussed on Facebook and irc already.

Criteria: Cambridge to Manchester by train, arrive around 18:00 on Thursday 7th June. It turns out to be harder than you'd think.

  • Cambridge-London(Kings Cross to Euston)-Manchester
  • Cambridge-Ely-Manchester
  • Cambridge-Birmingham-Manchester
  • Cambridge-Peterborough-York-Manchester
  • Cambridge-Ely-Peterborough-Leeds-Manchester
  • Cambridge-Peterborough-Grantham-Wakefield-Huddersfield-Manchester
  • Cambridge-Nuneaton-Stafford-Manchester

Via London is around 3.5 hours, and pretty simple, but very expensive at peak times (over £360!). Ely or Birmingham are the most straightforward, but take 4.5 hours. The other routes are all somewhere in between, but *how* many changes? And somehow I can't bring myself to go via York.

I think I'm *probably* going to go for the London route, and just aim to arrive an hour earlier so as to avoid the peak fare, but it took quite a lot of looking to make sure!