One of my many life skills is the ability to find decent train fares online. I know this doesn’t sound like a superpower, but try getting anywhere in GB by train and you will shortly be throwing your hands up in the air and using words your Granny would not like at all. Bitter experience, however, along with financial necessity and sheer bloody-mindedness have honed my skills to the point where I have managed to get the same journey in each of the past three summers for a reducing total each year. By 2024 East Coast trains will be paying us to go on holiday.
None of this is intended to suggest that GB train fares are cheap (despite enormous Government subsidies) or indeed sensible. It is this latter point which seems to defeat most people. They log on and think to themselves “All I want is an open return from Edinburgh to Manchester next Tuesday” and expect that to be that. Hah! The secret to success is:
- book early
- book a specific train
- never assume that the return fare is cheaper than two singles
Of course, like all rules, this doesn’t always work, nor is it always the best approach. There was one instance last year when Mrs WeeKeef had to make a late booking and ended up travelling First Class because that fare was £88, whereas the Second Class fare on the same train was £261. This makes no sense!
In a similar vein, Boy 3 (of 3) and I decided to travel to Dundee this week to meet up with Boy 2, who is working hard towards his degree show and could do with a free lunch. Just for a change I thought we would take the train and logged on to First Scotrail to see what was on offer. And that was where the fun started:
- adult single fare Edinburgh/Dundee – £27.30
- adult return fare Edinburgh/Dundee – £27.30
- add a child in the Easter hols – £27.30
Not £27.30 each. £27.30 in total. Basically, two of us can get there and back again for the same price as just me getting just there. This definitely makes no sense!
And all of this happens on the day that our esteemed Transport Minister announces a new, cheaper, fairer and simpler rail ticketing structure in a move which could see rail fares in Scotland “slashed by as much as 41%“.
Bugger! Why couldn’t he have announced that the day before? Lunch could have waited.