Best ticket buying website for a novice

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by trainophile, 16 Jun 2019.

  1. trainophile

    trainophile Established Member

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    I have been asked to help a friend of a relative (so not someone I know personally) to buy tickets online for what seems to be going to be regular trips between Great Malvern and Dundee. She wants to know what website she should use, and is under the impression that I know all about these things as I do usually book any tickets needed for family and friends, but that is when I have specific details of their journey dates etc.

    As I use several websites for various purchases, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages, I am not sure what to advise her. I am wary of nominating any particular website as they all have their complications, and I'm not sure she could cope with split ticketing.

    For a total novice, what would be the best (i.e. easiest to use) website to suggest?
     
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  3. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    For a total novice the simplest option is to use the ticket office, surely. If it has to be a website then any TOC's website will do the job - I don't think any one stands out as being particularly good or bad in terms of usability. TrainSplit will save you money but you are correct that even the minor level of complexity that split tickets introduce may be too much for some people.
     
  4. trainophile

    trainophile Established Member

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    Thanks, I thought it would be something like that. I will pass the message on that she would be better off either searching online herself or going to a ticket office. Didn't particularly want to get involved tbh, there's no cut and dried "best" one.
     
  5. Joe Paxton

    Joe Paxton Established Member

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    The one thing I try and get across to people - sometimes with limited success - is it's a good idea to work out what the semi-flexible (Super) Off-Peak Return ticket for any journey costs, and use that as a baseline when looking up fares.

    Of course an off-peak ticket comes with time restrictions which may make an Advance (or two) more suitable for some, depending on requirements.

    The other point is that many people seem to find the Trainline's matrix display easy to use - though obviously one should use a 'Trainline-powered' TOC site to avoid the fees.
     
  6. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    If you follow the itinerary, it makes no difference.

    But surely it's better to have a ticket that has some flexibility than one that has none?

    And talking of itineraries, if you follow the itinerary then there is no issue using split tickets provided by a split ticketing site.

    The only complications are if delays occur; but this is the case regardless of which website you use, and you can follow staff advice on the day.
     
  7. Joe Paxton

    Joe Paxton Established Member

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    What I was thinking of was an Advance (or two) might work best for those requiring/desiring peak time travel. Or if an Advance (or two) is significantly cheaper then the cost saving might outweigh the added flexibility of an Off-Peak ticket. All depends on the individual circumstances and what the prospective passenger(s) values.

    I agree with your general point though - which is why I try and advise anyone who asks for help to consider the Off-Peak Return as a baseline when making decisions about fares. For example say £10 extra for some flexibility might be well worthwhile over no-flexibility Advance tickets.
     
  8. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    There may not be a best one, but personally I always tell people to avoid The Trainline like the plague!
     
  9. 35B

    35B Member

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    One point not made is that some sites allow seat selection on their own trains - certainly Cross Country and LNER. When travelling on their services, this means that those companies tend to get my business for their services.
     
  10. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Your baseline price Great Malvern-Dundee is £168.80 (the Off Peak Return, valid Any Permitted route/operator after 0930 in either direction.
    There are hourly services Birmingham-Scotland on both WCML (Virgin) and ECML (XC) routes.
    Generally the WCML route is quicker, but the ECML route has a through train Birmingham-Dundee at 1303.
    Otherwise, it will mean changing at Edinburgh (Waverley or Haymarket) or Glasgow to reach Dundee.
    Changing in Glasgow means a walk/bus between Central and Queen St stations (not needed in Edinburgh).
    You can even travel via Hereford and pick up a WCML service to Scotland at Crewe (or even Manchester).
    Off Peak tickets are very flexible and you can change routes and stop off as desired on the way.

    The range of cheaper Advance tickets, tying you to specific trains, is likely to be very much better from Birmingham than from Great Malvern (or Hereford).
    For Scotland, weekends, holidays and (particularly) the Edinburgh Festival period will affect price and availability.
    But I can see a £57 Advance single Birmingham-Edinburgh-Dundee on dates in July with Virgin.

    All these options and prices should be visible and purchasable from any TOC web site, I would start with the VT site myself as I'm familiar with it.
    You can always pick up tickets booked online at the ticket machine at Great Malvern.
    Split ticket sites can give you the best splitting option, but you have to be specific about travel times and routes to get the best deal.

    I'm sure you know all this, but it's the sort of general advice I give friends and family on travel to Scotland if they are unsure of how to proceed.
    Sadly I often get the response "well I'll fly then, if it's that complicated/expensive"!
    Birmingham-Edinburgh in July is typically £40-50 one-way on Flybe (7 flights a day).
    Great Malvern-Birmingham International is £17 return, and Edinburgh Gateway-Dundee is £23 return.
     
  11. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    Last time I looked at a ticketing site there was absolutely no clarity about ticket validity just itineries. All I wanted was a ticket for an inter-urban journey that, subject to possible time restrictions, I could "turn up and go" with.

    Result? If it isn't in an Oyster zone I normally drive.
     

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