I received an interesting and "special" email from the charming Martin Lewis this week. Special, in that it warned that the email was being sent out very carefully, as "telling 9m people at once risks putting a strain on the UK ticket system". Interesting, in that finally there was some good news for the consumer in terms of getting cheaper train tickets. Initially I enjoyed reading that the new TicketySplit tool "takes on the ridiculous train ticket pricing anomaly that means buying two separate tickets sometimes costs less. It can save some regular travellers £1,000s".
But I then got to thinking, why was there a need at all for such a tool, surely it should already be easy to buy the best value tickets, through existing channels! But here is the very genesis of what is wrong with the current fares and ticketing system. The increased competition of the rail operating industry has created a complex system of ticketing that no longer makes sense to the consumer. It seems that rather than competing on train service reliability and punctuality, train operators are competing on price and how to make the whole process of ticket purchase confusing. How many times have you sat on a train and wondered how much the person opposite you paid for their journey? Worse still why is it that people with the best bargains repeatedly broadcast this news to the rest of the carriage!
Maybe we should ask the lovely people at the BBC to do a "BBC Price of Transport study" to follow up on their highly interesting "BBC Sport's Price of Football study" (launched today). Not only would we know how much a pie costs at White Hart Lane or AFC Wimbledon (where sadly they either do not have pies or refuse to reveal their prices), but we could also know how much it costs to get to all the football grounds by all the various options. But then again there is now at least Tickety Split!