Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Never Use The Train Line.com to buy rail tickets!

One of the trains that Hilary WON'T be riding on!
Hilary is going to visit her friend in Hull at the weekend and I've been doing a little research to find her the best price for the journey. (We have just bought a shiny new car, but whilst most people would be glad of the excuse to take it for a drive it's actually sat on the road outside since we brought it back from the showroom last Friday and the only journey it's likely to make in the near future is if I move it from outside our neighbour's house to outside ours).

Having identified the best route and the best place to split the tickets I was horrified to find that when Hilary went to buy them she was using The Train Line website.  It appears that if you type "train tickets" into a search engine this is the site that comes up first. However there are two good reasons why you should NOT use this site:

Firstly, I'm sure it's name is at least partly responsible for the growth in the use of phraseology such as "train station" and even "train lines" rather than "railway station" etc. But more importantly it charges a you £1.50 "booking fee" on every transaction!

As far as I know, it's the only site that does this. None of the train operating companies' websites do so and there is no need for it. Nor does it have cheaper fares. All ticket booking sites use the same national rail database to calculate fares and advance ticket availability (although sometimes you can get a slightly lower price from the train company you are actually travelling with).

You can buy tickets for any journey from all train operators, but not all have equal terms and conditions. Most (but not all) will charge you to send the tickets by post and some even charge you for the privilege of picking up the tickets from a machine yourself!

For what it's worth, I usually buy simple single and return tickets from the station booking office (they are nice people there and it keeps them in a job) but if I do buy advance tickets on-line I get them from Arriva Trains Wales. They send them promptly through the post (although they don't come from Wales!) and don't charge you for doing so. Needless to say  they don't charge you to pick them up from a machine at the station either. Also, they are a publicly-owned company where the profits go back into the public sector. Unfortunately it's the GERMAN public that benefits as they are a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bundesbahn, but no matter!

Oh, and if you do opt to get your tickets from a machine, please remember that although you have to specify the station at which you will pick them up at the time of booking, in practice you can pick them up at ANY station. Very useful if you are splitting tickets to get a reasonable fare.

Edited to say that the comment from Dave has reminded me that not everyone is confident or competent enough to use the various ticket-selling websites and may prefer to use the services of agencies such as Severn Dee Travel, so I have provided a link in the side bar.


nb Carmel said...

As a director of Severn-Dee Travel Ltd, the independent ticket office and waiting room facility on Gobowen station, we are very disappointed by web site bookings and Train Line in particular for its blatant false advertising. Web sales are threatening our existence, as we survive wholly on the 9% commission we receive on sales. We have to issue "Tickets on Demand" from web sales, but receive nothing from it. We can also sell directly almost all tickets TL and others offer, without booking fees, and without allowing buyers to fall into the many traps we see the have fallen into when they collect tickets. A recent case was a lady came to collect 4 tickets Gobowen to Chester return, for which she had paid TL £64. We are still unable to work out how she managed to do this. It's over twice what she should have paid . . . .

Jim said...

OK Dave,
I've given you a plug on the side bar!

nb Carmel said...

Ooooh - many thanks Jim!