Postaday2011 – The magic tree

OK so now I know we have hit rock bottom. This is the suggested topic for Day 63, I actually think we are on Day 66 so what happened to to 64, 65 and today? Strange.

I could tell you that I had a really great birthday but that would be self indulgent wouldn’t it so I need to write about something more worthy… UK train fares.

I’m sure there was a time when you just rocked up at the counter and bought a train ticket, certainly in my youth this was the accepted way to travel. Now with the advent of the internet and call centres it’s possible to buy tickets in advance, up to three months I believe. This is marvellous but what annoys me is the disparity in the cost involved. I can buy a cheap day first class return two or three weeks in advance, nominating the trains I plan to travel on and save something like 60% on the cost of buying it on the day. Is it right to penalise people who for whatever reason are required to travel at short notice?

When I’ve been travelling in Italy we have bought tickets on the day and they have been comparable in price to what you might pay for an advanced purchase ticket here. Why do we have to make everything so complicated??? It’s the same with air fares and Eurostar tickets. Want to save money, buy it weeks or even months in advance. I recently bought two tickets to Paris via Eurostar, I checked the price on Saturday and bought them on Monday, I had to wait for confirmation from the in-house moderator on the exact dates, cost me an extra sixty quid because I waited two days. You might imagine I was cross, livid would come a bit closer. Maddening, bizarre and stupid are other words that came into my head. This is particularly annoying as you have to nominate your train / flight at the time of purchase. It’s not as if you want an open return.

Companies will no doubt claim there are very good reasons for this policy, I imagine they will cite forward planning, supply and demand and I don’t know what else. But there is only one plane at that time, a set number of carriages on a train.

Perhaps you know your way around this system. Is it the same in other countries? I need to know…

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