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Split Ticketing, Good or Bad?

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lincolnshire

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What do people think about split ticketing? Martin Lewis the money saving expert is plugging it on his latest blog.

Is it as good and easy as he makes out in his blog? what do others think of it and the pit falls of it.
 
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What do people think about split ticketing? Martin Lewis the money saving expert is plugging it on his latest blog.

Is it as good and easy as he makes out in his blog? what do others think of it and the pit falls of it.

Used it numerous times for Cardiff-Swindon and then Swindon-London too much hassle especially with advance fares to break it down any further.

And I was using it before he piped up. :)

Does bring up questions about how the fares are calculated in the first place. I'm all for 'rewarding' people for travelling off peak and booking in advance, but many of the walk up fares are very unfair when you directly compare them to the option of split ticketing on the same route on the same day.
 
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Gemz91

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Like that one, wonder who purchased the ticket for him then?

To be fair, I'm not sure if there are any split tickets available on the route he was travelling anyway. Still made me chuckle to myself though. First class ticket too, would assume he was probably doing a bit on a local radio station or the like who paid for his ticket.
 

cuccir

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A lot of the issues surrounding split tickets were recently covered here.

I'm not sure that split tickets are either 'good' or 'bad'. Some of the reasons behind them existing are good; some are bad.

The network is complicated because it's so varied: if you can take the Esk Valley line, the West Coast Mainline, the London-Brighton line, the Cambrian Coast and the Wirral Line and design a simple ticketing system that could cover the different speeds, flows, demands and capacities that cover all these lines, then you ought to be working for NASA or GCHQ, not some train company! However on top of this complexity, we also add multiple train companies, 'PTE' areas around major cities where fares are subsidized, mass overcrowding of commuter trains, products such as Rangers and Rovers aimed at leisure travelers, and so on. So we also add in lots of complexity too, which creates some 'bad' reasons for splits.

This is why splits exist and work. In an ideal world they wouldn't - fares would be clear, and people could easily buy the cheapest fare for their journey as a through ticket. It does seem mildly unfair that splits are only available to those with the time/capacities to explore and discover the splits, and that they're only available on certain routes for reasons which are often quite circumstantial. However, the network is complex and even if we ironed out all the complexities caused by privatization or mismanagement, we'd be left with a system that either contained split ticket savings, or over/undercharged people in certain places.

With regards to 'pitfalls' - yes, there can be, depending on how you split. Most obviously, most splits involve some loss of flexibility in the services, routes or times over which you can travel. People splitting ought to understand these when making that decision.
 

Greenback

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I first split tickets way back in 1996, after reading in Modern Railways how a journey I was going to make would be cheaper that way.

I don't think it's good or bad, it's born out of the fares system and it is just what it is.
 

LowLevel

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I have no problem with split tickets and happily churn them out as required (and when I've had folk on who look like they may be struggling for money, or tell me they are, with a larger fare I'll even make a split for them to try and help them out).

However if someone has tried to be clever and messed it up then I don't give them any mercy - if they're clever enough to try and play the system to their advantage then they have to get it right. I had an older, but not quite elderly, couple who had booked two advances because 'it was cheaper' but had only left themselves one minute between trains at a large interchange. They wanted me to let them travel an hour earlier on their first train for free because 'it'll be on my conscience if they have a heart attack rushing'. I charged them - albeit the cheapest I could (less than 20 quid all in) - to make the point that if they want to play the system they need to do it right.
 

Tetchytyke

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It's neither good nor bad, it is simply a way of things.

A "simple" ticketing system like Cross Country's blanket 0930 restriction for off-peak tickets encourages people to split their tickets, yet a "complex" ticketing system will create loopholes that encourages people to split their tickets.

The pitfalls tend to be that the splits will often be at smaller stations with a less frequent service- Didcot and Northallerton are two examples that spring to mind- which restricts the choice of trains that a passenger has. This is fine if the passenger understands this, but Flamingo will tell us many of them don't (or at least pretend they don't). The issue with the way Martin Lewis presents things is that he makes it sound simpler than it is. Having previously worked with him on a different subject area a few years ago, I'm not entirely convinced this isn't because Martin Lewis also doesn't actually understand it...
 
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CyrusWuff

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Used it numerous times for Cardiff-Swindon and then Swindon-London too much hassle especially with advance fares to break it down any further.

And I was using it before he piped up. :)

Does bring up questions about how the fares are calculated in the first place. I'm all for 'rewarding' people for travelling off peak and booking in advance, but many of the walk up fares are very unfair when you directly compare them to the option of split ticketing on the same route on the same day.

If you've got a Network Railcard/Annual Gold Card and/or some form of Travelcard, a Didcot Parkway split, rather than Swindon, can be beneficial on that sort of journey as Didcot's the last station in the Network Area.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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It's also a product of freely available on-line booking engines and fares data where you can fiddle for yourself to get the best fare combination and book what you want.
When you had to ask specifically for a chain of tickets at a booking office, you often got a brusque response ("I shouldn't really issue these", or "You aren't supposed to do that").
The railway used to be very secretive, and still tends that way.
But the genie is out of the bottle now, on fares at least.
 

theageofthetra

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I've found Martin Lewis isn't always as good as many think he is. Caught him out several times on Twitter when he has promoted a sponsored link over a better alternative.
 

Greenback

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I do think that technology and the wider availability if information has had an impact on split ticketing. It's made it much easier to get the tickets you want for a start!

Also, more people know about such things now, and it's pretty straight forward to find out fares information nowadays. It still would be even if there weren't dedicated split ticketing websites out there.
 

CyrusWuff

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Our fares system is such that it's virtually impossible to eliminate anomalies, as fixing one will generally create at least one more.

Used to have a customer who'd travel to Liverpool on a Friday evening. As he held a Travelcard Season, he could make four splits en route and save about 50% on the through fare.
 

185143

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I've been at a station (which I won't name in case it gets people in trouble) before where many people were making a journey to a particular station. You save about 30% by splitting at the previous calling point however. The staff were selling the split ticket without people requesting it and telling them they didn't have to alight at the split point as it was a direct train.

If it's a well known split, then it should be sold (especially as in this case, all the trains from this station to the passenger's destination called at the split point!)

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
 

LexyBoy

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It's the way it is and isn't unique to our system.

However, I think it's "bad" that the differences can be so huge - for one journey I do regularly a single ticket would cost almost twice what a split costs.

Obviously it's "good" that using split tickets is allowed - I'd be pretty miffed having to pay for a ticket all the way to Oxford when I have a season ticket half the way!
 

fandroid

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The online ticket sellers actually encourage one form of split ticketing, and the TOCS sites are included in that. I mean the way they show single ticket prices for a return journey. That works both ways of course. If an offpeak or super offpeak return is cheaper than the combination of two advance singles, then encouraging the split is mis-selling. However, if one leg of the journey is on a peak time service and no advance discount is available, then splitting the journey into two singles is almost always a lot cheaper than an anytime return. And, there's no hassle with the train stopping (or not) ! Anytime returns are nearly always a gross waste of money, and even if they are needed for both legs, two anytime singles are very rarely more expensive. Perhaps the railways should stop selling anytime returns?
 

CyrusWuff

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The online ticket sellers actually encourage one form of split ticketing, and the TOCS sites are included in that. I mean the way they show single ticket prices for a return journey.

The trouble with the way certain sites present fares is that (all too often) you see people who've bought two Singles for a given journey when a Return would have been almost half the price they've paid.

In terms of savings, I managed to save £10 on a First Advance from London to Leeds once by buying separate London - Grantham and Grantham - Leeds tickets for the same train! (Or was it Newark? One or the other)
 

Master29

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I never bother with split ticketing websites. Although splitting tickets can be much cheaper I don`t find using these sites anything special, especially once they take their 10%. Yeah, you can save a bit of time perhaps. As fandroid rightly says it is a form of miss selling when cheaper options exist. I know it can take time but trawling through the TOC`s own sites can be just as effective. Maybe there care cases where if works and fair play if it does but I`ve never found any.
 
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Merseysider

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Split ticketing certainly isn't unique to the British rail system. When I lived in Germany, it was neccesary to split at Rosenheim and/or Kufstein (near the border) as it saved at least €10 over a through ticket to my destination in Austria. When travelling across Morocco, it was cheaper on one occasion to buy separate tickets for train and (state railway sponsored/owned) coach than purchase a through ticket.

For a return journey from Manchester to Norwich next week, it worked out cheaper for me to split 6 times (outward via Donny/Grantham, return via London, Wvh and Stoke) which I found rather excessive.

Either way, there's no 'good' or 'bad' to it. It's a necessary element of our multi-layered fares system. Were split tickets forbidden, it would penalise medium to long distance passengers. The fact that it's sometimes necessary to get the best price penalises those without the required time/intellect/knowledge/understanding of our fares system. There's not really anything that can be done about it.

Oh, and 'simplification', including the move to smart cards, might get rid of the need to split tickets, but it certainly won't lead to an overall reduction in prices.
 
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yorksrob

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I don't tend to bother splitting advance tickets as I can't be doing with the faff of trying to line up the portions anyway. The exceptions being very long journeys where I happen to be changing trains/companies anyway.

I have a couple of nice, uncontroversial local ones which I like to use regularly !
 

Marton

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Isn't the problem the rates per mile used by different operators? XC being extortionate compared to TPE.
 

Andyh82

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I don't tend to bother splitting advance tickets as I can't be doing with the faff of trying to line up the portions anyway. The exceptions being very long journeys where I happen to be changing trains/companies anyway.

I have a couple of nice, uncontroversial local ones which I like to use regularly !

It is easier using operators where you can choose the seat, (does everyone do that now?) so you can ensure to choose the same seat for both legs. Splitting an advance London to Leeds at Peterborough saved a bit of money.

Splitting an advance Sheffield Birmingham at Derby also saved a bit, presumably as only half the journey is therefore priced at the expensive XC price range.
 

yorksrob

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It is easier using operators where you can choose the seat, (does everyone do that now?) so you can ensure to choose the same seat for both legs. Splitting an advance London to Leeds at Peterborough saved a bit of money.

Splitting an advance Sheffield Birmingham at Derby also saved a bit, presumably as only half the journey is therefore priced at the expensive XC price range.

I suppose I could . TBH, I find compulsory seat reservations a drag.
 
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I first started doing split ticketing probably 15 years ago, or thereabouts. I remember being horrified by the cost of an Alfreton to Glasgow ticket, started playing around on the Trainline and discovered that I could split the journey at Sheffield, pay less, and make the exact same journey as the original "through" ticket. I don't think I've ever managed to do a split where the split happened without my changing trains though.

Sometimes I still do split tickets, but it depends on how much I'll save. I have a disabled adult railcard now which helps keep the costs down too. The off-peak return tickets with break of journey are my current favourite trick though -- I'm often happy to pay £5 more for the flexibility and to not be racing around to make sure I catch the exact train(s) I'd have booked split tickets for.
 
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