Lincolnshire’s rail system: Value for money?

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Inflation figures published in August have shown a never-ending rise in rail prices nationally – but what does this mean for Lincolnshire?

Research from rail trade unions suggests that the price of fares has risen at double the speed of wages and will rise by a further 1.9% by January 2017.

Passenger numbers across Lincolnshire also continue to rise with 4,958,262 people using trains in the county in 2014-15, compared to 4,726,262 in 2013-14.

Bruce Williamson from the independent campaign group Railfuture said: “[The] CPI inflation figure is only [up by] 0.6%, but next January’s fares will go up by 1.9% because the government insists on using the higher RPI figure.”

Value for money?

Prices and passenger numbers have both risen, alongside annoyance as passengers complain of overcrowding and having to stand during journeys.

David Harby, Chairman for the Lincolnshire branch of Railfuture, said: “If you look at the main routes that are used by commuters – Sleaford to Lincoln, Newark to Lincoln, Market Rasen to Lincoln,  Spalding to Peterborough for example the biggest annoyance for passengers is overcrowding and value for money because they have to stand.

“Where Lincolnshire is losing out is the shortage of rolling stock. The government say that the extra fares are bringing improved services.

“They are for London and the north but we haven’t seen any yet. Our big hope is when the East Midlands franchise is re-let next year.”

Bruce added: “Despite the government’s best efforts to deter us from travelling by rail, passenger numbers continue to rise, so we’re being charged more and more for less and less space on the train. Is it any wonder that rail travellers are unhappy?”

Virgin Trains East Coast train

Virgin Trains East Coast train

A price to pay

When purchasing tickets, it can be a very costly process, however there are ways of getting a cheaper fare which leading rail companies don’t always mention.

David Harby, Chairman for Lincolnshire Train Future, said: “There is an ongoing discussion within the rail industry about the national rail website and the fact that it has no split ticket option.

Lincolnshire Reporter looked at how much it would cost to travel from one end of Lincolnshire to another.

In this example, we have searched for tickets to travel from Stamford to Grimsby at three various times of the day:

Stamford to Grimsby

  • 8am, journey time: 3 hours 22 minutes, cost: £58
  • 8.05am, journey time: 3 hours 32 minutes, cost: £66.30
  • 12pm, journey time: 3 hours 34 minutes , cost: £49.90
  • 12.05pm, journey time: 3 hours 32 minutes, cost: £66.30
  • 5pm, journey time: 2 hours 48 minutes, cost: £49.90
  • 5.05pm, journey time: 3 hours 43 minutes, cost: £72.10

Figures show that this journey would take a mere one hour, 50 minutes to drive there, costing around £12.97 in fuel.

David said: “As on many routes there is a cheap day ticket after around 8.30am. The trick is to try to find a ticket to an intermediate station and rebook from there with a cheap day ticket.”

“[Using the example above] The 8am train has changes at Peterborough and Lincoln.

“Single fare is quoted at £58.00. As an example of the ways of getting cheaper fares I looked at buying separate tickets for each stage of the trip.

“These are £8.00, £15.50 and £12.30 making a total of £35.80. Quite a saving for anyone who knows their way around the fares’ structure.”

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