Shortcutting… Train Tickets

28 Jun

Another day, another train journey. Since I started this blog, I seem to have had more train journeys than… other things one does frequently. Anyway, one area I (should) have become well-practiced in is buying tickets. Today’s journey was relatively short distance – only about an hour – so my friend and I were foolish enough to leave booking until the day of the journey. Even more foolishly, we decided to meet only twenty-five minutes before the train we wanted to catch was due to leave. This yielded interesting results. We spent ten minutes queuing in the wrong queue. Five minutes queuing for a self-service ticket machine that did not take cash – for my friend this was fine but I did not have enough money on my card for the ticket which was rather more than I was expecting, probably because we hadn’t booked in advance. We then spent just under ten minutes queuing for a different self-service machine, where there happened to be  a little old man at the front who wasn’t quite sure how the thing worked. With much ripping of hair out from us, and some help from the second person in line, he finally found his tickets and got out of the way. Those of you who are mathematically gifted will have calculated that we now had only about three minutes until our train left. After much clicking of wrong buttons and dropping my money all over the floor (more haste less speed), we ran at full tilt to the train, which at this point only had one door left open. To make a long story short, we made it (I realise I actually just made a short story long, but oh well), although it took about three carriages before we found a seat. There are several lessons to be learnt from this experience:

1) Book tickets in advance. Even for the shortest journey, you’re bound to save a bit of dough by booking earlier. Something I haven’t quite got a grasp of yet is the whole ‘off peak’ shebang – I think basically if you travel at weird times you can get cheaper tickets, but I don’t know quite where you find out what times are weird, although when booking online it does say sometimes.

2) Reserve seats. This probably isn’t necessary for such a short journey as the one I had today, but anything longer than two hours and I’d definitely recommend it: if you haven’t, everyone else will have.

3) Get there early. This isn’t directly related to tickets, but get there early to avoid close shaves: they are exhilarating but it isn’t worth the risk.

And some tips I have learnt from past train ticket experiences:

4) Try and get discounts. Things like student and family railcards will sufficiently lower your fee, so research which ones you qualify for and get your mitts on them.

5) Book a return, not two singles. This is a rookie mistake that I myself have fallen prey to: do not be fooled, one single is almost the same as a return ticket, so with a single you’re effectively getting half as far for the same price. Oh but if you do book a single, don’t forget to book one for the way back too – I wouldn’t want you getting stranded!

Song for this post: Day Tripper, The Beatles – ‘One way ticket, yeah!’

Keep shortcutting,



3 Responses to “Shortcutting… Train Tickets”

  1. ribbie June 29, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    Good tips and you made it. Once I got on the wrong train in Munich after asking the German clerk which train to Geneva. I got on the train to Genoa instead. Who knew that the word for Geneva in German is Genf. I ended up in Venice.

    • shortcutting July 1, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      A classic case of things getting lost in translation… Hopefully Venice was nice though!


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