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So are we being taken for a ride over train ticket prices?

Byline: Philip Dewey Reporter philip.dewey@walesonline.co.uk

THE truth behind rail prices in South Wales has been exposed with split ticketing showing how savings of up to PS100 can actually be made for the exact same journeys.

Split ticketing is a system by which train journeys can be broken down into smaller chunks allowing rail users to legally spend less than buying a direct ticket to their destination.

Many passenger groups have called on rail companies to make journey prices fairer when some passengers end up paying more than others for the same journey at the same time. David Sidebottom, passenger director at independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Less than half of passengers in our most recent survey felt they had got value for money on their train ticket.

"The ticketing system is complicated and passengers tell us that they often find better deals by shopping around on different websites or by 'splitting tickets' - buying several tickets to various stations along the one journey to get a cheaper price.

"The industry should be promoting to passengers where savings can be made."

Perhaps the most shocking discovery was a difference of more than PS100 between a direct ticket to Edinburgh from Cardiff Central and a split ticket for the same journey.

According to the National Rail website, a single journey to Edinburgh from Cardiff Central, with a change at Crewe, at 10am on Tuesday, August 18, would cost PS170.40.

A split ticket for the same journey on the same date would see rail users paying PS29 from Cardiff Central to Crewe and PS40 from Crewe to Edinburgh, a total journey cost of PS69 and a difference of PS101.40 from a direct ticket.

An off-peak return ticket from Cardiff to Taunton would cost PS25.40. But if you chose to travel from Waungron Park in Fairwater to Taunton it costs PS41.60.

This is an extra PS16 despite Waungron Park being around two miles from Cardiff Central and usually costing about PS3.70 to travel between the two stops.

It's a similar story for a day return ticket from Swansea to Cardiff which costs PS8.90 but travelling adding the Birchgrove to Cardiff Central trip on top is a whopping PS16.10.

Split ticketing also shows how Swansea passengers are being charged an PS8.50 premium for a service that costs Cardiff passengers just 70p.

For example, to travel from Cardiff to Rhoose station the cost is PS4.30 or PS5 if you include the bus to Cardiff Airport.

The train from Swansea to Rhoose station is PS6.90 yet the cost is PS15.40 if you then add the bus to the airport.

The cost of travelling from Port Talbot to Rhoose is also 50p more than from Swansea to Rhoose even though it is closer.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, representing operators and Network Rail, said: "There are occasions where buying a combination of tickets instead of buying one ticket can be cheaper.

"However, split ticketing is generally a more complicated way of buying and using tickets, and a better deal may be available by booking in advance.

"Split ticketing is impractical at station ticket offices, as to give customers every possible permutation to get from A to B would lead to very long queues.

"In general, train companies want to encourage people to travel by train which is why we offer a range of good value fares. Attractively priced fares are one of the principal reasons that passenger numbers have doubled since the 1990s."

HOW TO GET A FARE DEAL Here are some examples of Parkway to Birmingham oR oR savings that can be made: New Street = PS25.70 Total = PS35.70 Cardiff Central to Reading = 35.30 and Reading to Southampton = PS13.40 Total = PS48.70 Birchgrove to Cardiff Central = PS2.70 and Cardiff Central to Swansea = PS8.80 Total = PS11.10 Cardiff Central to Edinburgh via Crewe = PS170.40 OR Cardiff Central to Crewe = PS29 and Crewe to Edinburgh = PS40 Total = PS69 Cardiff Central to Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol Parkway = PS69.30 OR Cardiff Central to Bristol Parkway = PS10 and Bristol Parkway to Manchester Piccadilly is PS40.30 Total = PS50.30 Caerphilly to Swansea via Cardiff Central = PS18.60 OR Caerphilly to Cardiff Central = PS4.30 and Cardiff Central to Swansea = PS8.90 Total = PS13.20 Cardiff Central to Liverpool Lime Street via Crewe = PS41 OR Cardiff Central to Crewe = PS29 and Crewe to Liverpool Lime Street = PS8.60 Total = PS37.60 Cardiff Central to Birmingham New Street via Bristol Parkway = PS55.30 OR Cardiff Central to Bristol Parkway = PS10 and Bristol Cardiff Central to Southampton via Reading = PS74 (Prices are from National Rail for 10am on Tuesday, August 18) Birchgrove to Swansea via Cardiff Central = PS16 Here are some examples of savings that can be made: Cardiff Central to Edinburgh via Crewe = PS170.40 OR Cardiff Central to Crewe = PS29 and Crewe to Edinburgh = PS40 Total = PS69 Cardiff Central to Birmingham New Street via Bristol Parkway = PS55.30 OR Cardiff Central to Bristol Parkway = PS10 and Bristol Parkway to Birmingham New Street = PS25.70 Total = PS35.70 Cardiff Central to Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol Parkway = PS69.30 OR Cardiff Central to Bristol Parkway = PS10 and Bristol Parkway to Manchester Piccadilly is PS40.30 Total = PS50.30 Cardiff Central to Southampton via Reading = PS74 OR Cardiff Central to Reading = 35.30 and Reading to Southampton = PS13.40 Total = PS48.70 Cardiff Central to Liverpool Lime Street via Crewe = PS41 OR Cardiff Central to Crewe = PS29 and Crewe to Liverpool Lime Street = PS8.60 Total = PS37.60 Birchgrove to Swansea via Cardiff Central = PS16 OR Birchgrove to Cardiff Central = PS2.70 and Cardiff Central to Swansea = PS8.80 Total = PS11.10 Caerphilly to Swansea via Cardiff Central = PS18.60 OR Caerphilly to Cardiff Central = PS4.30 and Cardiff Central to Swansea = PS8.90 Total = PS13.20 (Prices are from National Rail for 10am on Tuesday, August 18)

CAPTION(S):

Are you paying too much for train tickets?

'The ticketing system is complicated and passengers tell us that they often find better deals by shopping around on different websites or by 'splitting tickets' ,' says David Sidebottom, passenger director at independent watchdog Transport Focus 'The ticketing system is complicated and passengers tell us that they often find better deals by shopping around on different websites or by 'splitting tickets' ,' says David Sidebottom, passenger director at independent watchdog Transport Focus ROB BROWNE
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 6, 2015
Words:1077
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