The annual rise in rail fares, coupled with engineering work travel chaos over Christmas period has put the cost of train travel under closer scrutiny than ever before. But while the government is putting a positive spin on rail fare increases – saying that the 2.5% rise is the lowest for five years – we’re still saddled with an incredibly complex and confusing system of rail fares in the UK. And this week we’ve been finding out just how tricky childrens’ fares can be.
Travelling with your kids – whether it’s for a fun day out or a necessary journey – can be stressful enough without the complications of tricky fare structures. The way some train operating companies approach pricing for families blatantly unfair and almost seems to be deliberately confusing.
At Resolver, we’ve found out that families could well be paying unnecessary train fares for their children. Here’s what we discovered.
Children under 10 can travel free within Greater London, yet when you buy a child’s ticket from a station outside zone 6, they will often give the option of ‘bundling’ in a travelcard for an extra cost – extra cost for travel that ought to be free.
In our example, we found that a child’s return ticket from Winchester into Waterloo cost an extra £2.35 when you added a one-day travelcard. Train companies do not make you aware of this loophole, and are happy instead to sell you a ticket.
Outside of the capital, incredibly complicated fare structures can mean there similar pitfalls for unwary families out on day trips into cities with urban and suburban rail networks – here are just a few examples:
An anytime child return from York to Newcastle costs £30, or £32 if you want travel anywhere within the Tyne and Wear Metro network. Which is fine, except that a child’s day pass for the Metro network costs just £1.10
An anytime child return from Edinbrugh to Partick, just west of Glasgow, costs £11.65. Yet if you hop off at Glasgow Central and head to Partick on the SPT subway you’ll save £5.45 if you use SPT’s Smartcard system.
It’s not all bad news, mind you – we looked up the cost for a child travelling from Liverpool Lime St to Gorton in south-east Manchester, and it cost the same as the return ticket to the city centre station Manchester Piccadilly.
Cheap fuel at the forecourt.
Petrol prices dipped below the £1 mark, making fuel the cheapest it’s been in the UK since 2009, thanks in part to extremely low oil prices. But it should not be forgotten that consumer and government pressure on high pump prices have helped drive costs down.
Essentially, motorists have voted with their feet (well, their wheels), sparking a price war involving petrol retailers and supermarkets – and the result is cheaper fuel for everybody.
This is a lesson we should all learn – if you think the price of anything is unfair, complain about it!
Energy prices show no signs of dipping
Yet while oil prices drop, energy prices show no signs of slipping. Despite the announcement from the Bank of England that the Consumer Price Index – the main indicator of inflation – is now running at 0.5%.
So why are energy providers not bringing us cheaper energy when they’re under pressure from regulators and customers to do so? It seems that politics could be the answer. If Labour holds the balance of power in May’s general election, its promise to freeze energy prices means firms will be stuck with any cuts they make now… so if you’re stuck with costly fuel bills, you might have to hunt around… or hold on until after the general election…
For a simple and easy way to complain about over 1,500 companies go to www.resolver.co.uk
or download the iPhone app.