Undercover researchers from the consumer watchdog asked for advice on the cheapest fare for 150 train journeys*. In each case, passengers could save money by:
- Using a cheaper, slower alternative route.
- Taking a slightly later train to take advantage of off-peak fares.
- Buying a ticket that lets you stop off en route rather than paying for two single trips.
- Buying a season ticket rather than multiple single tickets.
59 per cent of station ticket clerks and 43 per cent of National Rail Enquiries operators failed to advise passengers about the cheaper option. No correct answers could be found in one easy step on Nationalrail.co.uk for any of the scenarios used**.
Nine times out of ten, a passenger hoping to make two round trips from Oxford to Cardiff in a week was advised to buy two return tickets costing £200 each. Just one clerk advised that buying a weekly season ticket would save the passenger £112***.
A Which? survey also revealed only half of train passengers felt confident that they knew how to get the best possible fare for their journey****. Around half (54 per cent) were satisfied overall with train services in the UK*****.
Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says:
"Train operators seem blind to the fact that their ticketing systems are too complicated - if people who do this for a living can't find the cheapest fare, what hope do passengers have?
"We'd like to see much clearer signposting to help passengers find the best deals available, whether they're buying tickets online, over the phone or at a station."
Easyvoyage strongly recommends you have a look at the Which? advice to getting fairer train fares.