Page 30 - PIC Magazine Autumn Issue 13
P. 30

                            RAIL TRAVEL FOR LESS!
Professor Dominic Regan returns to provide tips on securing the best deal when travelling by train!
Professor Dominic Regan
Dominic Regan Tailored Development
Another useful way of cutting costs is to use secondary providers. Grand Central runs a very limited but cheaper service from London to York. LNER is the main provider and it has some trains which run non-stop. Again, Virgin is the dominant provider between London Euston and Birmingham New Street. However, award-winning Chiltern provides a similar, less frequent run from Birmingham Moor St (5 minutes’ walk from New Street) to London Marylebone. By using Chiltern,
I got to London for 80% less than the cheapest Virgin fare. The journey took 15 minutes longer and the seating was excellent with charging points for everyone.
Railcards abound and, if eligible,
you should get one. Full details are
on the website. Savings represent a discount of one third, which immediately covers the cost of £30 for a year.
If you live outside London and are taking my favourite train - the Eurostar, which goes to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, all year round - never make the mistake of buying separate tickets to London. On the Eurostar website enter your starting point such as Doncaster and then your destination. I tried a test purchase for this column and found that I could do the entire journey for exactly the same fare as if I were travelling only London-Paris. Sometimes it might cost
a tad more but nothing near full fare. You are the beneficiary of the secret London International Fare!
For all rail planning, home and away, look at the Seat 61 website. It is named after a lovely seat in Premium Economy on the Eurostar. It is a table for 2, coupled with Seat 65, so book them together. The website allows you to select seats after booking.
One final Eurostar trick. It can cost less to stay a night booking a hotel with them as well as rail rather than doing a day return!
Finally, if you are delayed remember to ask for compensation. Only one third eligible ever make a claim. Bonkers!
I take a picture of the platform clock as I alight so that I have evidence of delay. Once a lawyer...
    I catch 250 trains a year, every year. Fares are high. According to Virgin Trains only 1% of passengers pay the full fare for journeys with them. There are several ways of mitigating your rail spend.
Buying tickets in advance is an obvious way of cutting costs. It used to be that advance tickets would disappear a day or two before your journey. That is now not always so. Indeed, if ever you have to buy a walk-up fare at the station on the day, never use a ticket machine. Always go to the counter. In June I had to take
a train from York to Leeds. The kindly gentleman was able to sell me an advance ticket for a train departing 20 minutes later and at a 75% discount to the fare charged by the machine. Always ask!
If booking an advance journey, always look at both travel classes. As peak hours expire, you could find that First Class is the same fare as Standard or even less! That is because people on expenses tend to be business types (or Silks) and travel early. Ordinary people travel off-peak so that the demand for First Class collapses, whilst the desire for Standard soars.
Incidentally, this principle also
holds true for upmarket business hotels in the peak Summer season. Perversely, it can cost more to stay in a reasonable ‘budget’ hotel than somewhere smarter. Business people take August off, whilst tourists instinctively pack out those hotels which they assume is all they can afford. I have dwelt in magnificent Barcelona Hotels that came in cheaper than the Holiday Inn!
Many will have heard of ticket splitting. Instead of buying a ticket from, in my case, Bath to London, one buys 2 tickets. The first takes me to Didcot (where the train stops en route to Paddington). The second covers me from Didcot to London. There is no need to disembark.
It is significantly cheaper to buy
2 separate tickets. Note that the train must stop at the intermediate station for this to apply. The LOCO2 train app now automatically works out ticket splitting journeys for you. Incidentally, if you fancy a run from Paris to Marseilles or Brussels to Moscow it will sell you those
tickets too.

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