|Train tickets: Cheaper if you know how?|
Though I had not booked ahead, I did check the National Rail Enquiries website for train times and an indication of fares the night before travelling. This told me that my Reading to Coventry off-peak standard class day return would be £51.
Double checking with the "cheapest fare" tool confirmed that £51 would indeed be the lowest "turn up and pay" price available on the day of travel.
However, on the morning of travel I remembered to ask the person serving me at the ticket office if instead of a Reading to Coventry day return ticket, could I opt to buy a Reading to Banbury day return ticket and a Banbury to Coventry day return instead. The tickets were sold to me without any comment or restriction or, as far as I am aware, contradict the National Rail Conditions of Carriage. In fact Paragraph 19 of the National Conditions states:
Using a combination of tickets
You may use two or more tickets for one journey as long as together they cover the entire journey and ... the train you are in calls at a station where you change from one ticket to another.
So why did I ask for the two tickets? Because the cost of the return ticket from Reading to Banbury was £12.10 and the Banbury to Coventry return £13.40.
In other words, the same return journey, sat on the same trains for a total cost of £25.50 - or precisely 50% of the lowest advertised "cheapest fare" of £51.
Is this ticketing arrangement a carefully hidden secret or simply a rip-off?