The main thrust of this blog has always been towards exposing the dishonesty, self serving duplicity and hypocrisy of Bog Gov. and Big Corp. But it is time to widen our horizons somewhat and get involved in the fightback.
Our first effort in this direction is a follow up to the post about rail fare increases from a couple of days ago.
Now the excuse for raising fares above the inflation rate is that it will combat overcrowding on public transport. And the excuse for whacking up taxes on fuel, stealth taxes such as congestion charges and plain and simple taxes that attack personal liberty such as road tolls is that it encourages people to use public transport; thus providing an excuse for more punitive fare increases - they don't really think we're that stupid do they? (Panto like response from punters - "oh yes they do.")
OK, I'll take you word for it. So let's shaft them.
First plan your journey well in advance. If you can book six weeks in advance there are plenty of reasonable fares available.
If you are a regular rail users get a season ticket. No matter if you are not a commuter, a typical example of the lunacy is that the shortest journey for which a season ticket is available is the half mile trip between two stations in Ryde, Isle of Wight. This will set you back just over £100 and such a season ticket can be purchased at any station in the UK or through ticket agencies. You never go to the Isle of Wight? No matter, the fact that you are a season ticket holder entitles you to 30% discount on your other fares so if you Manchester or Leeds to London once a month on business you're quids in.
The shambolic way privatisation was cocked up has thrown up many anomalies in the fare structure. For example, it is often cheaper to split your journey while never leaving the train you first board. A bit of careful planning is involved but if your train goes all the way from , say, London to Manchester instead of paying the standard £109.50, choose the right train and you can book London to Milton Keynes (£20.30) and Milton Keynes to Manchester (£73.) Total £93.30.
There are hundreds of similar savings to be had. Use the links provided below to find nationwide information.
moneysavingexspert has a comprehensive guide to best value season tickets and one off fares.
megatrain.com - low cost intercity travel
barrydoe.plus.com (independent travel consultant) this site guides you through the labyrinth of fares, off peak discounts, zoning etc.
an insiders guide to cheap rail ticketsis a simpler guide to the most useful savings
http://www.thetrainline.com is a good resource for comparing fares and train times.
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk provides official information to help with journey planning.
Transport Union TSSA has highlighted that rail travellers in the UK pay 55p per mile between London and Manchester while a journey from Paris to Calais costs 17p per mile. So much for the Government's green claims. The primary consideration? As usual ITS THE MONEY.
Now avoid those nice friendly convenient ticket machines. They lack the means to sell you the cheapest ticket. Go and wake up the ticket vendor sitting behind the little window. Oh sure, some of them might be surly and unhelpful jobsworths whose grim visage would turn vinegar sour, but a lot are jolly, as helpful as the regulations allow and glad to have somebody polite and knowledgeable to talk to.
You see they are not allowed to advise on the cheapest way to make your journey, their bosses don't pay them to help customers save money. Oh no, as with any bureaucracy the 42 factor rules. If you don't ask the right question the answer will not make much sense. But if you have done your homework there are bargains to be had.
Sometimes its cheaper to pay for a longer journey than you plan to make. Anyone going from London to Carlisle (well someone must go to Carlisle!) will save money if they buy a London to Glasgow ticket. There's no way they can make you go to Glasgow.
So now you have an insight into the craziness of the railway system, just go out there and take advantage of them. The links provided above will lead you to much more detailed information on how to demand the most economical prices.