One last vignette from my travels. I was in Newcastle train station, attempting to buy a ticket from Carlisle to Dumfries as I only had a return half taking me as far as Carlisle. The conversation went like this
Me: Can I have a ticket from Carlisle to Dumfries please.
Dead-eyed Train Company Employee: That’ll be £9.10
Me: What? Normally it costs me £5.50
D-ETCE: It says £9.10 here
Me: Is that the off-peak rate?
Me: is that a single or a return?
D-ETCE: It’s both. Single and return
Impasse while I tried to think of another way to ask the question that didn’t result in an almost doubling of the usual price. Normally I’m a bit of a pushover and hate arguing about prices but this seemed insane. Time passed and I began to wonder if I should just back down and not miss my train for the sake of less than four quid. But fortunately she blinked first.
D-ETCE: Of course, if you bought a cheap day return, that would be £5.50
I can’t even now work out if this was an example of deadpan Geordie humour or just an example of rank incompetence and/or poor IT systems (even the national rail site offers you the cheap day return even if you only ask for a single). I know the supermarkets have been getting some stick about those special offers that actually cost more than the regular price but I hadn’t realised Tesco was running the railways. At least, not yet…
*She lied, I’ve just checked on the National Rail travel site and it’s the anytime fare