True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme No 29: So, you want a cheap city-to-city trip?
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WANTING a return ticket for travel from London to Newcastle upon Tyne and back should be an easy enough request for British Rail to deal with, but when Mr Mike Dutchie went north the other week he discovered not only difficulties with ticketing, but found that he could have travelled more cheaply to Edinburgh.

Mr Dutchie, of the Barbican, London, needed to get to Newcastle before lunchtime to attend a family wedding, so he opted for the 8am weekday morning train. The return ticket cost him pounds 124. Yet after arriving at Newcastle, the train continues to Edinburgh, but the return fare from the Scottish capital is only pounds 72.

The reason, as far as British Rail is concerned, is simple: even though you might be on the same train, the Newcastle trip is classified as a Business Service, whereas the Edinburgh one is a Leisure Service. A saver fare - for pounds 72 - is available on a Leisure Service, but not on a business one.

Mr Dutchie warns that business travellers to Newcastle should not try to save money by getting an Edinburgh ticket and getting off at Newcastle. You may not be allowed back on the train at Newcastle for the return trip without paying a hefty supplement.