Suffolk: It’s the great train robbery - thousands paying more because of confusing prices

THOUSANDS of rail passengers are unnecessarily forking out millions of pounds on train travel because of confusing price structures, a Star investigation has discovered.

Commuters using some routes are spending up to �25 more then they would by buying a single ticket to their destination rather than a ‘split’ fare.

Examples pulled from the National Rail journey planner website yesterday found significant discrepancies in ticket prices, including:

n Ipswich to Edinburgh – save �25.70 on an ‘anytime’ split ticket to Peterborough.

n Ipswich to London – save �11.40 on an ‘anytime’ split ticket to Colchester.

n London to Newcastle – save �14 using an ‘off-peak’ split ticket to Doncaster.

One passenger told how he was quoted �68 for a ticket from Birmingham to Trimley – but when he asked for a ticket to Peterborough and another from Peterborough to Trimley the price plummeted to �53.70.

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Today, The Star launches a campaign calling for the introduction of more straightforward ticket structures – and pledges to monitor anomalies which are leaving passengers out of pocket.

The Office of Rail Regulation last month claimed passengers up and down the country were often paying over the odds because of confusion over prices.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, today backed The Star’s crusade – and urged train companies to bring in a simpler and fairer ticketing system.

“Passengers find the whole ticketing system confusing and are often unsure which is the best ticket for them,” he said.

“With literally thousands to choose from, it’s no wonder some passengers end up with the wrong ticket and paying over the odds for their journey.”

One passenger contacted The Star after saving nearly �13 by asking to split his ticket.

The commuter, who asked to remain anonymous, was travelling from Birmingham to Trimley and was quoted �68 for a single ticket. But when he asked to split his ticket at Peterborough, the price fell to �53.70.

“I asked the gentleman to try a ticket from Birmingham to Peterborough, then to Trimley.

“The operator didn’t bat an eyelid, then quoted me �53.70 for the same journey.

“I suddenly thought of all those people out there that don’t know any better, and how many of them are wasting money on the wrong ticket.”

A spokesman for the Greater Anglia service, used by thousands of people from Suffolk everyday, said split tickets are sold to customers when they are requested.

The spokesman said: “Train operators have significantly increased the numbers of low cost advance tickets over recent years and these have become increasingly popular.

“Where a passenger asks for separate tickets for a specific journey we will always try to comply with their request in line with the conditions that apply.”

The Association of Train Operating Companies said rail firms have been improving the information they provide to passengers, including a redesign of tickets to make them easier to understand.