Anorak News | Stations Of The Cross

Stations Of The Cross

by | 3rd, December 2005

‘KNOCK! Knock! Who’s that at the door at this hour? Oh-oh, it’s Aunty Joyce and her magistrate husband Clive. Why are they here so early, they’re not due until Christmas lunch?

“It’s the trains,” explains Joyce. “If we came before the Christmas rush, we could get a better deal. So here we are. Do be a love and make us a cup of tea and take our bags upstairs to the bedroom. Have you put on weight..?”

Curse those trains. The houseguests might be unwelcome, but they’re not wrong. If you haven’t yet booked that trip to see the relatives back home for Christmas, you’re in for a shock. Ticket prices are not cheap. Rail travel is expensive.

Whereas last year discounted tickets were on sale up to mid-December, this year things are different.

The Times has looked into the availability of fares. At the time of writing, the cheapest advertised fare between London and York is £9.50. But if you want to travel over Christmas – December 23 or 24 – the cheapest fare is £26.50, but only if you depart before 8:30am. If you want to leave after that, the fare’s £39.50.

Oh, and if you fancy leaving between 1:30pm and 8pm the cost of travel is at least £61.

This is, of course, just one example of how a fare can look cheap until you come to pay for it.

A spokesman for GNER, which operates that London to York service, explains: “We are not out to be Scrooges.” Indeed. Unlike the rail operators, Scrooge had a cathartic moment and became “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew”. Who’s gong to scare the railways into a new direction? The ghost of John Prescott?

The spokesman goes on: “We are no different to the airlines in responding to the laws of supply and demand.”

The laws of supply and demand, eh? Like how the supply of seats is often too low to meet passengers’ demands for one each? Like how the supply of onboard food would only satisfy the demands of a starving rat? And like how the supply of excuses as to why the train is late demands laughter? Or some other laws of supply and demand?

And then there’s the voice of Virgin. He says: “There is no point in selling as many cheap tickets on trains where we know there will be high demand. It just contributes to overcrowding.”

Of course. We won’t mention how laying on additional services might ease the rush to the train, and the crush on it.

We just move on and tell you that you should book early for the best fare. Do not always take the first one quoted to you.

Leave early for the station and travel on board the train with plenty of drinks, a sleeping bag and photographs of your nearest and dearest.

Or get in the car and drive…’

Posted: 3rd, December 2005 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink