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Split ticketing – official MSE discussion
edited 6 January 2022 at 5:09PM in Public transport & cycling
17 replies 3.9K views
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I have a specific example which works as a test case and is usually available, and can save £10 one way.
For brevity I will use 3 letter station codes
Desired journey: LST-SUY (all on Greater Anglia). This requires a change at MKT (also on GA)
Cheaper "split": LST-COL, then COL-SUY COL is beyond MKT, and the COL-SUY leg requires a change at MKT (usually). COL-SUY is usually not restricted to a particular train, LST-COL is usually an Advance.
Note the cheaper version doesn't add very much to the journey time, for reasons which will become obvious
Why this works: GA generally only offers Advance tickets on the express trains on the Great Eastern Main Line to Norwich. Almost all the express services stop at COL, but expresses don't stop at MKT (the change point for SUY), hence no advance ticket offered for MKT or SUY (which is why a traditional split won't work and won't be found by the split websites). And the split websites don't check for travelling beyond stations passed through on journey including official change points.
COL is not very far from MKT, and the express is saves most of the time that will be lost by changing train and doubling back to MKT, and overall the schedules usually work OK that it doesn't take that much longer to travel between LST-SUY or vice versa via COL. This trick works for some other stations on the Great Eastern Main line e.g. Witham, find the next station the expresses stop at and price up a ticket backwards to the desired station.
I think this is very customer unfriendly. I have often thought about writing to local newspapers to try and shame GA into a better deal for some branch line passengers
NB: Changing at NRW to travel onwards to a branch line is often included at same price on an Advance ticket, i.e. LST-SHM is often same price as LST-NRW (SHM needs a change at NRW), so why not SUY? Commuter profiteering I think.
On a related point; when there are engineering works on the Great Eastern Mail line, the national rail website will often propose the Ely-Cambridge route as this is marginally quicker than replacement buses (but always more expensive). Always worth checking by putting in a "via COL" to the National Rail website (or other train websites including Greater Anglia) to ensure you get the usually cheaper option (although you may need to tolerate a replacement bus which is 45 mins longer, often via Newbury Park on Central Line underground, or occasionally NRW-IPS