Cheaper Travelcard prices
Travelcard prices have always confused me, especially as I recently found a legitimate way to get cheaper Travelcard prices than I had been paying for them before.
This past weekend saw Kip, his daughter G, myself and my four kids make the trip into London to see Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre. I’d considered driving there, but the cost of fuel plus the cost of parking meant that a train would be easier and, if the traffic in Chelmsford was anything to judge the roads by, significantly quicker too.
We all met in town and strolled to the station to get our tickets. I defied my normal convention by queuing at the ticket window to get my tickets whilst Kip took my normal route of ignoring human conversation and buying direct at the ticket machine in the station forecourt.
I got seen to quickly and was soon the proud owner of five Travelcards, which I took great delight in pointing out to the kids looked as though the machine printing them was pooing out tickets (if you can’t be silly when you’re on your way to see Dick and Dom, when can you?) The cost was £19.60 for mine, and £2 for each of the kids, which I think is a bargain and makes me much more inclined to take my family on the trains more often.
We walked over to Kip, who had just started entering his details into the machine. For some reason a Travelcard for him and G, which by my reckoning should have been just £21.60, was showing as £30.15, with his ticket being 50p more than mine and G’s ticket being more than the cost of my four kids combined.
Thankfully he hadn’t yet paid, and though we both had a play with the machine we could find no option that would allow us to reduce the ticket price. A quick trip to the ticket office resolved the issue insomuch as getting the tickets at the cheaper price, though they weren’t able to suggest why the machine was different.
This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with buying tickets at the station, and to this day the cost of a Travelcard covering Chelmsford to London is a mystery to me that is only ever answerable on the day. In the past I have been told that waiting until 9.30am makes it cheaper, yet other times this has been incorrect, and the Greater Anglia website is hazy at best on day travel costs.
Fortunately the staff were helpful at the station, though had I been in a rush and not able to queue again, it’s possible that I’d have had to buy tickets at the machine, and with four kids that would have been over £32 extra (more that double) to what I actually did pay on the day.
I’ve tweeted Greater Anglia asking if there is a reason for the difference in price on the machine and am waiting for a response.
Thankfully the episode didn’t put a dampener on the day.
Edit: The response by Greater Anglia:
In other words, it pays to speak to the ticket office when you’re booking tickets, as you may pay well over the odds by using a machine, which is limited in its ability to work out the cheapest way to travel. Which begs the question, how difficult is it to get software that works on ticket machines the same way it works when speaking to a member of staff using a different ticketing system?