Dear rail companies….

"Good morning, look you, Jones-the-absolute-ripoff"

Dear rail companies,

Just a quick note of appreciation for your wildly unpredictable and logic-defying pricing structure.  I enjoy trying to navigate the labyrinthine maze of different fares whenever I want to travel.  I highly recommend the Semi-Super Saver Single Return Railroader Autumn Summer Traveller Student Nurse District Pet Family Oxbow Lake Pass incidentally.

It’s irritating enough doing this for myself, but it’s even more annoying when trying to cost a research project involving a lot of train trips.  The project could be fairly cheap, or it could be massively expensive, depending upon brute luck, how organised academic colleagues are in requesting tickets, how soon the administrators can book them through the special magical portal of trail travel that universities seem to have, what time academics have to leave/arrive, and whether Mars is in the ascendant.  Do we go optimistic, take an intermediate position, or take a wildly pessimistic one?  Travel costs could end up being negligible in relation to the project as a whole, or run to a significant share of expenses.  We could end up returning a fairly substantial slice of cash, or we could run out of money and/or cut the project activities short.

Guess what, rail companies?  The rest of the budget is predictable.  So why are you making life difficult?  You don’t get research associates charging extra for work before 9:30, or offering to work for substantially less if you tell them what to do six weeks in advance.  Transcription costs aren’t more expensive if the tapes leave London via Waterloo rather than St Pancreas International.  Overheads aren’t more expensive in peak hours.

All this is bad enough.  And then one train company – I’m looking at you, East Midlands Trains – makes it worse by plastering adverts featuring Jedward all over every phone box in the Greater Nottingham area.  Damn you all.  Damn you all to hell.  On an apex network first advance single.

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1 Response to Dear rail companies….

  1. Phil Ward says:

    Totally agree, Adam. It’s needlessly bizarre. Any journey I take these takes necessitates time on the terrible National Rail website working out the best/cheapest ticket. The last time I went up to Swindon it turned out to be roughly half price if I broke up the journey into three segments and got a return from Canterbury to London, a return from London to Didcot, and a return from Didcot to Swindon. It shouldn’t be like this. How hard can ticketing be?

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