Q The government says it wants to simplify rail fares. It could be so simple: prices that are calculated by distance. Tickets are always the same price – unless you buy on the train, when there is a surcharge. It works in the Netherlands – no surprises, everyone knows what they will be paying. Surely this could be much simpler than what is going on now?
A Britain’s absurd tangle of rail fares is full of anomalies and is desperately confusing. The price you pay for a journey can be inversely proportionate to distance – TransPennine Express charges almost £5 more for an off-peak ticket from Edinburgh to Lancaster than to Preston, even though the latter is 20 miles further away. “Split-ticketing” is an established way for people to save cash, by dividing a journey into two or more sections. And 100 miles of travel in southeast England typically costs two or three times more than the same length of journey in rural Wales or Scotland.
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