Guest columnist: Rail fares are mired in online confusion

Rail fares are confusing and far too often passengers end up paying more than they need.
Barry CowardBarry Coward
Barry Coward

This not only applies to walk-on fares but also to advance fares.

Here is an example. Trains between Retford and London are operated by Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) and Hull Trains.

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VTEC offer advance fares from Gainsborough (typically £25.50) but Hull Trains is only allowed by the Government regulator to offer advance fares from the stations it serves.

Gainsborough Lea Road to London Kings Cross leaving at 10.46am will cost £76.40 because it is a Hull Trains service.

However, if you buy a ticket from Gainsborough to Retford and an advance ticket from Retford to Kings Cross for the same train you will save around £45.

And, when buying advance tickets go to the website of the train company for the best deals, not sites such as the Train Line who charge booking fees.

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Barry Doe, a rail fares expert, says; ”A mess? Yes, and it will get worse as time goes on, not better, as operators do more and more advance fares to tempt more people to travel this way.”

If your new year resolution is to do more walking then you need Stuart Parker’s rail walks around the Penistone Line in the heart of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ country.

Pick up a Guided Walks by Train leaflet at the Guildhall or visit

East Midland Trains have erected a help point at Lea Road station.

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As well as seeking train time advice it can be used to report vandalism, trespassing on the tracks and any other anti-social behaviour at the station.

The Friends of Lea Road station volunteers last week painted over some graffiti on the platform one waiting shelter.

The best way to defeat graffiti is to remove it as quickly a possible.

If passengers spot any graffiti at Lea Road they can use the help point to report it.

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Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes, asked a question in Parliament last week about the fate of the Brigg Line.

As a result, Martin and his neighbouring MPs will meet with transport minister Paul Maynard soon.

Michael Portillo in his Great British Railway Journeys programme, broadcast last week, arrived at Lea Road station to visit A & M Rose.

He then departed to Lincoln, although viewers were shown an aerial shot of the Cleethorpes-bound train leaving Gainsborough Central.

Never mind, he can change at Barnetby for Lincoln.