I love Wales because

Ok not a serious topic but…today i needed to book a train ticket to go to London tomorrow.

My nearest stations are Shotton and Flint. £90. Gulp.

I thought i’d see if Chester was cheaper. Same train…£180!

I love Wales.


Last year I was on a train back from the Eisteddfod in Y Fenni / Abergavenny to Crewe. There was a guy on the train who had travelled from Southern England via Casnewydd /Newport in South Wales because it was cheaper to get to Northern England that way than to go via Birmingham or the “West Coast Mainline”.

I read some time ago about people using tickets “from Shotton” to travel from Chester to save money … and then getting in serious trouble for “travelling short”!

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In the days of British Rail (if you are too young to remember that was the publically owned uk wide railway pre-Maggie) not only were some time tables based on old ones pre-nationalisation when Great Western Railway run on larger gauge track, so times to change trains allowed time to cross from one set of platforms to another, but also there were some lovely mistakes! I lived in Harrogate and found the fare quoted to Swansea was different to that in the opposite direction. I used to point this out if it was to my advantage (shortest route) but never if it was not! Ferch ddrwg!

These rip-off fares apply to the whole of the rail system, Pete - not just to and from Wales.

If you want to travel on a fairly long journey on the same day or soon afterwards, you need to take out a bank loan first!

However, if you are in a position to buy your tickets some way in advance (especially via websites such as thetrainline.com), you’ll find that there are often some real bargains to be had.

Example - after reading your post, I went into the trainline.com website and said that I wanted to travel from London Euston to Flint tomorrow at 10:00, one way. Price: £82.90. Then I changed my date of departure to a month hence (mid-April) and lo and behold! - there are (limited) tickets available for £38!

Last year I and a friend holidayed in Llandudno, and our train tickets booked well in advance cost us only £50 each return from Rochester, Kent to Llandudno. This included the High-Speed line south of the Thames (which attracts a premium) and a London Underground journey, then Virgin trains from Euston to Chester and finally Arriva Trains Wales from Chester to Llandudno.

PS I remember your local stations - Shotton and Flint - for all the wrong reasons. We had been on a day trip to Chester, and on the return journey the ancient train almost lost a diesel pipe. Accompanied by loud banging (the pipe knocking against the track) the train limped into Flint, where it was examined, and there was diesel pouring onto the track. The service was terminated, needless to say, and we had to change to a bus for Rhyl and then another one to Llandudno. It took absolutely ages!

Hwyl, Gavin


Was this before privatisation, which was supposed to solve all problems, or after?

I’m pretty sure that this ridiculous (almost surreal) railfares system has only surfaced since privatisation.

That’s what I thought, In BR days, any weird prices were mistakes, any phantom trains ditto!! (The phantom train was real, It ran from Manchester Piccadilly to Penzance during the night, summer only and had no sleeper cars! It was a way of people getting to Cornwall on holiday cheaply if in some discomfort!) - I was a time table buyer and reader for any route from Yorkshire to South Wales and had folks in Hereford. I found this new entry in the time table and told Dad when I’d be arriving. Why does one’s male parent never think one competent? He checked at the station. Phones me, “No such train!” I explained and told him to meet me on pain of a huge taxi fare! He gets to station, Station Master locking up, “My daughter’s arriving in a minute of so!” , “No Sir, there are no more trains!” Sound in distance, Dad asks sweetly, “What’s that then?” Into the station slowly pulls the longest, oldest train one can imagine. It stretches to the very extremes of the platform or more. It stops. A door is heard to open. It shuts. Footsteps… train begins to move, footsteps come across footbridge and down steps. I appear. Reaching the station door and holding out my ticket to the bemused Station Master, I say, “It’s the late night Cornish Tourist Train from Manchester to Penzance and will be stopping here every Friday until September! Good night!”
Sorry this isn’t quite Wales but…!

My father used to work on the railways in the valleys, and while he was there, they introduced a zone system. It didn’t last long.

Anyone familiar with Valley Lines will know that to get from one valley to another, you have to go through Cardiff, but the northern end of the valleys - Rhymney, Merthyr, Treherbert etc were all in the same zone - I think it was 5 or E or something. Which meant that if you went from Rhymney to Cardiff, it cost you £5 return (5 zones, 50 minutes or so), but if you went from Rhymney to Treherbert, it cost you £1 (1 zone, probably 2 hours of train journey, via Cardiff).

Needless to say, when everyone stopped “travelling to Cardiff”, the zone scheme was scrapped.

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Oh I love :heart: that one! It reminds me of the traffic system someone devised for the Euston Road, London. I suspect they had never been there, or only on a Sunday, but it involved making almost all of a six lane road one-way and sending traffic in the other direction round the square outside the station. Most of it, having wanted to go straight on in the first place, then had to turn right before turning left again. They even ended up with arrows painted on the ground which actually crossed each other! My bus, heading north across Euston Road, had to turn left into the wide, wide 5 lanes going west and cross to the furthest right to get round the square, so that it could then turn left. The chaos was indescribable! The speed with which the whole idea was scrapped was quite impressive! Men must have been out all night moving traffic lights and repainting white lines and moving signs. Heaven knows what it cost! I never found out who, if anyone, got the sack!

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In fairness, it wasn’t that much better in BR days, except that the ticket staff would tell you how to get the best deal. I used to travel from Cardiff to Newcastle occasionally, and had to choose whether to travel up the East or West Coast of Northern England to save money.

On a related note, our friends visiting us for a week from Switzerland, via the Calais-Dover ferry, found it significantly cheaper to buy two weekend return tickets (and ignore the return journey) than to but two one way tickets or a standard return ticket. I think something similar applied on trains (a shoppers return being cheaper than a single).

BR staff varied. I met a sad lady with small child on a platform at Crewe. The train I had been on, travelling north from Newport, Gwent went on fire and was stopped at a little station miles from anywhere. BR finally sent one and took us on. I was going to Harrogate via Stockport and Stalybridge on a train from Crewe to Stockport. This lady was trying to get to Edinburgh and had been told, “no way!” I said,“I can get you to Newcastle, will that help?” It would. The train I caught from Stalybridge took us to Wakefield and hence Leeds, where I changed, but if she stayed on she’d be in Newcastle! No one at Crewe, a very famous junction, had looked into other answers to her problem. But, another time BR ran a whole train from Stalybridge to Wakefield just for 3 of us!

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