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Dear Sirs

We are once again touring your country by train and having a great time. But we are rather perplexed and concerned by the way your timetables and pricing policy works. We find it very hard to understand.

Being silver surfers, we decided to use our PC to book online for a trip we wanted to take. We fired up the computer and found National Rail Enquiries and asked for trains leaving Derby after 10:00am for a journey to Glasgow. We would be travelling with our heavy luggage.

Daisy May and Harper Lee Radley arrive in Glasgow £110 better off than they might have been.
Photo: Maurizio Costanzo

The first choice we were offered was a service leaving Derby at 10:44 which would take 5hrs 22mins and get us to Glasgow at 16:06. We would have to change three times at Chesterfield, Manchester and Preston. The cost would be £98 each.

We were worried about the possibility of missing one of the three connections so we looked again and found an alternative train departing Derby at 10:44, changing once at Haymarket and costing £54.50 each. This is the same train from Derby and would see us arrive into Glasgow just one minute later than the first option.

But that’s not all - there was a third way. That same 10:44 from Derby actually goes direct to Glasgow - that’s right, no changes at all - taking 5hrs 39mins and costing £43. So there was a train heading exactly where we wanted to go but your National Rail Enquiries service seemed to think we may prefer to get off and change three times, paying an extra £55 for the privilege.

So why promote the most expensive and complicated trip first, leaving the cheapest and most straightforward to last? If you are prepared to take an extra 17 minutes, have the same seat for the whole journey and not face the possibility of missing a connection, you can more than halve the fare. Guess which train we took?

Guess which train we took?

When we get home we intend to set up our own beverage vending business adopting the same principles as your National Rail Enquiries. We will provide cups of tea by express courier for $15, arriving in just three days and saving the inconvenience of making brews at home. The couriers will carry microwaves with them in case buyers want their tea hot. Alternatively there will be a premium kettle-filling service allowing customers to mail their kettles to Buxton - in your beautiful Peak District - where it will be filled with natural spring water and returned within the week.

Unfortunately we didn’t get up to York this time but we hear that the colourful weeds in the terracotta brickwork at the platform ends have been removed. Such a loss. But we did go into London King’s Cross and we are pleased that the trackside buddleias are in full bloom this year. What a great show for all your Olympic visitors.

You Brits sure have some strange ways and sayings. As a taxi driver told us, “anyone can be 23 but it takes a bus to be 23B”.

Best wishes

Daisy May and Harper Lee Radley
Martin Luther King Lane
West Blocton
Bibb County

Story added 1st August 2012

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