Start your train journey in Wales - and pay half the price

Emma Woollacott
Assembly seeks new rights for Welsh speakers
Assembly seeks new rights for Welsh speakers

Many West Country commuters could save a small fortune by catching trains from over the border in Wales instead.

An analysis of figures from the Office of Rail Regulation shows that people travelling from Bristol - 20 miles from the Welsh border - are paying over £50 more for journeys to major UK cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

Compiled by the Bristol Post, the survey of ticket prices reveals that passengers willing to add an extra 40 minutes on to their journey could in many cases cut the price by more than half.

A peak-time trip to Manchester next Monday costs £80.70 from Bristol Temple Meads. However, a train leaving Newport for the same destination just four minutes later costs less than half this price, at a bargain £32.

The reason lies in the way different journeys are classified, and in the different subsidies the operators receive. While Bristol to Manchester counts as an intercity journey, the Newport route counts as a regional line.

Meanwhile, there's a big difference between government subsidies between the two countries, varying from an average of £2.19 per journey in England to £9.33 in Wales.

This week, the cost of train tickets rose by 2.2%, with season tickets and other regulated fares going up by 2.5%. Since 2010, fares have risen over two and half times faster than wages, and the average season ticket has gone up by 27%, or £600.

Research by Action for Rail shows that UK passengers now spend an average 17% of their monthly wages on a season ticket, compared with just 6% in Spain and Italy.

As a result, customers are increasingly using ruses such as that suggested by the Bristol Post to cut the cost of their journeys. Where you don't have a handy border to hop over for a cheaper ticket, split ticketing is often the answer.

Instead of buying a ticket from A to C, it's often cheaper to buy two: one from A to B and the other from B to C. You can still get the same train, and don't need to break your journey at B: all that's necessary is for the train to stop there.

What's not advised is the sort of trick used by one hedge fund manager who got caught last year. He was found to have exploited a loophole in the Oyster card system to spend five years travelling to London from East Sussex paying only £7.20, instead of the full fare.

He was ordered to pay back the full cost of the individual journeys to Southeastern, more than £43,000 in total - £20,000 more than the journeys would have cost him if he'd just bought a season ticket in the first place.

Read more on AOL Money:

Rail fares - how to cut costs

Ten ways to cut the cost of your commute

Which is cheaper: commuting by car or train?

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