Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Tickety-boo

I am going to have a nice day out in Oxford on Monday. We have driven into Oxford once, and we couldn't escape, so I decided to go by train. Apparently since I was last in the jobs market, universities have stopped paying interview expenses, so I was on the lookout for the cheapest possible deal. If it meant a few extra hours to wander around the city of dreaming spires, so much the better.

Nothing is cheap in the world of rail travel though. The cheapest advance fare I could find from Penkridge to Oxford, via Birmingham New Street, was £47 - £23.50 each way. So I bit the bullet and went onto the Cross Country website to buy the tickets. I was offered the option of collecting them from a machine at the station, for free, or having them posted, for six pounds. Naturally I wanted to collect them at the station. But woe! Penkridge station does not sport a suitable machine, so that was a non-starter.

Then I thought, it's not much to get from Penkridge to Birmingham - I checked and it was £8.60 Anytime return - perhaps I should just book the advance tickets from Birmingham. So I went back and found the same trains - £15 each way. Result! Total cost £38.60 as opposed to £47.

But that's not the best bit. Travelling from Birmingham, I could get my tickets by post, £6, or to collect them from a machine would cost me a pound this time! There was a free option - an e-ticket, which is emailed and printed off. But how bizarre that this is available where it's not really needed, because there's a machine at the station, but not where it is needed, because there isn't.

(I expect there's a boring and sensible reason like London Midland (the Pengridge-Birmingham leg) can't deal with e-tickets or something). Still, I've paid a bit less and probably even made it cheaper than driving now, so I'm pleased. And I am looking forward to my day out, even if it isn't at someone else's expense.

6 comments:

  1. Jim from Starcross is an expert at these split ticket exercises, so if you ever need a hint as to which options to try, he's your man. Whenever I have to buy tickets with other companies, it makes me realise how good lots of the offers from Southern are. Depending on my shifts, I can usually get to London for less than £5 for an off-peak single, or £20 for a peak return -- much much less than the standard fare.

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  2. Sarah,
    Happy to help at any time. I never buy one rail ticket when two will do!
    BTW Charging a pound to pick up a ticket from a machine is a rip-off. No doubt a Cross-Country scam. You can use any operator's website to buy any ticket to avoid these things.
    Have a good journey.
    Jim

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  3. We have to pay £2.40 return from Bicester to Oxford - not a bad deal me thinks :)

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  4. Hope the interview went well - didn't realise you were looking to go back to work!

    When I need ticketing help, I put a request for help up on http://www.railforums.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=105 and a herd of train nerds stampede to help out, with their collective geekery. Most useful!

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  5. Mmm. I picked up the 'interview expenses' bit as well? Tired of the carefree life already Sarah :-)?
    Kath (nb Herbie)

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  6. It's on Monday. Having rashly spent most of my payoff on a butty, I thought it might be in order to earn some money for a few more years so I've been applying for suitable jobs as and when they come up (but not back in London - I'm not that desperate yet!) I'm pulling the stops out for this one as it seems on paper to be made for me... So fingers crossed.

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