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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2007-01-07 17:40
Subject: So much for trains
Security: Public
I was just attempting to get train fares for a journey from Sierre (Swiss Alps) to London.

Holy crap! How do they expect anyone to use trains? I can get from Sierre to Paris at a reasonable price - a very reasonable price for a direct TGV that takes 5:20. But that's no use whatsoever, if it then costs THREE TIMES AS MUCH for the Paris to London link, which is only 2:40.

</rant>

EDIT: Many thanks for the purpletigron/purplecthulhu's advice on getting round Eurostar.

EDIT: OK, I can do Sierre to Paris-Lyon for 113 CHF, if I buy it from the Swiss, and using the halbtax card. That's just under £48. And going via the "I am American" part of the Eurostar site allows me to buy the single/non-flexible fare at $89 each - which is roughly £45. That's compared to the insane £300+ it was trying to do me for originally for the Paris to London leg!

So, Swiss Alps to central London for £93 isn't too bad. I just wish it wasn't such an incredible hassle finding this all out. If I was a PA doing this, and factoring in the cost of my time, it'd be another matter.

EDIT: Ooops, forgot time zone differences. That was 2:40, not 1:40
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PurpleTigron
User: purpletigron
Date: 2007-01-07 17:52 (UTC)
Subject: Actually from purplecthulhu, busy on another line
Hint from an Austrian colleague - book through DB (http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en - who can do tickets for anywhere), order the tickets online, and they will contact you to sort out the payment. It'll be much cheaper. Likewise, book through http://www.Eurostar.com and pay in US$ and get the exchange rate benefits not http://www.Eurostar.co.uk

Look at The Man In Seat 61 (http://www.seat61.com/) too.

I hope this turns it around for you.

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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-01-07 18:47 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Actually from purplecthulhu, busy on another line
Wow, now that is one heck of a price difference!

(So I'll probably throw away half the return fare, but that's fine. £60 per person return is a lot cheaper than £150 per person single).

I think it was the difficulty of getting round behind the 'normal' fares that was what was causing me problems. The railways still haven't learnt the lessons the airlines learnt several years ago.
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purpleCthulhu
User: purplecthulhu
Date: 2007-01-07 20:56 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Actually from purplecthulhu, busy on another line
If you book through the eurostar.com route I *think* you may ever be able to get single tickets. Haven't tried this though.

If you talk to someone at Eurostar UK they are now advising people to book and pay in dollars since their own native currency prices are so high. When we lived in france and travelled the other way it was much cheaper since we benefitted from the SNCF subsidies. That's another possibility in fact - book a return from Paris through the french site, and throw away the return.
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TOTKat
User: totkat
Date: 2007-01-07 20:57 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Actually from purplecthulhu, busy on another line
I must be doing something wrong... all the journeys I look for say "no online tickets possible" with the explanation "For connections outside of Germany, a special ticket is required. These offers are not bookable via the internet."

So, I'm not sure how you get to buy a Paris to London ticket this way.
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PurpleTigron
User: purpletigron
Date: 2007-01-07 21:02 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Actually from purplecthulhu, busy on another line
We are told that you need to 'order' rather than 'book' the ticket - I was led to believe that there was a button for this, but perhaps you need to email them with the details instead. purplecthulhu will check with the colleague concerned tomorrow. But http://www.seat61.com/ may still help?
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I'm really Onda Musslan
User: evilshell
Date: 2007-01-07 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've looked into it, too, thinking it would be a nice journey. It was so obscenely expensive that it would take a big chunk out of the travel budget so I said forget it.

And they want people to use trains over flying - Josef is flying into Luton and home on the same day for less than 100 CHF total, taxes and credit card processing fee included.
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PurpleTigron
User: purpletigron
Date: 2007-01-07 18:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do think it is important to remember that budget airlines are basically scamming the rest of us. Their prices fail to reflect the true cost of their activities. Now, the train companies may well be charging over the odds for their services. But it's up to the politicians to set a fair regulatory environment - and up to us to force them into it, at the ballot box, and with our wallets, or our feet.
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I'm really Onda Musslan
User: evilshell
Date: 2007-01-07 18:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Scamming????

How are they scamming if they are providing a quick, efficent service at low cost - bringing travel to those who can't afford more expensive ways to go?

I vote with my wallet. I use the cheapest, most efficent mode of transportation. In this case, it is easyJet.
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Megabitch
User: megabitch
Date: 2007-01-07 18:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The author of this article says it better than I could. This from the last couple of paragraphs:

All over the world, encouraged by governments that remain wilfully blind to long-term pollution, cities and regions are competing for the right to open new airports, granting easily affordable landing rights to a plethora of airlines with names like Flybe, Wizzair, Jet2 and Excel, which no one had heard of a few years ago, but which all share one thing — the inalienable right to destroy our environment.

Far from trying to rein back on this insane expansion, most countries are subsidising it — to the tune of about £30 billion a year in Europe alone. There is no VAT on aviation fuel, no VAT on new aircraft and no VAT on ticket sales. In Britain, airlines would have to pay £5 billion a year if they were taxed at the same rate as motorists. Since they do not, tickets cost about 42 per cent less than they did ten years ago, and the number of people who fly is expected to double over the next 15 years. We are, in effect, subsidising an industry that is poisoning our planet, in the name of another industry — tourism — that will, of course, be the first to suffer from the poisoning of our planet.


Emphasis is mine. The scam isn't on the passengers of the budget airlines, it's on the rest of us who subsidise it.
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PurpleTigron
User: purpletigron
Date: 2007-01-07 18:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wrong.

For example: It seems that aircraft emissions are up to three times more damaging per passenger kilometre than the raw climate change gas emissions data would suggest.

You have to calculate the efficiency of the whole system - not just the visible tip of the iceberg in your wallet today. Total energy efficiency, and financial cost of remediation of external damage, not just your credit card bill this month.

It's also a myth that low cost airlines mostly serve those who can't afford higher priced tickets. The bulk of the travellers are people who used to fly anyhow, and now fly more often.
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purpleCthulhu
User: purplecthulhu
Date: 2007-01-07 21:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When, as happened to 2 colleagues of mine recently, EasyJet strands you in an obscure Italian airport at 11pm with all nearby hotels full and no customer support to speak of, you might think twice about how efficient they actually are for the passengers.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-01-07 19:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm going to sympathise with Shelley somewhat here. Yes, there could definitely be an equality in fuel taxation between the airlines and the trains, but the low-cost airlines are burning much less per passenger mile than the traditional airlines, by dint of carrying more passengers per weight of aircraft.

Personally, I think taxes are the better way. And the easiest one to make directly proportionate to fuel cost/carbon release is a tax on fuel itself. (Charging SUVs extra for parking is totally silly - that's exactly when they're not causing all that damage!)

I really do wish the trains could be more sane, price-wise. Travelling on Swiss or German trains is very civilised, and although the London-Basel route would take longer than flying, it's not that much worse. Returning from Leukerbad is going to require a fair bit of train travel anyway, so we should be able to do it in much the same time.
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User: rmc28
Date: 2007-01-08 17:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If I was a PA doing this, and factoring in the cost of my time, it'd be another matter.

But you only have to learn most of this once and your exec goes travelling more than that.

The rules of cheap European train travel are:
1. Book in advance
2. Buy separate returns for separate bits of the journey (how I turned London-Rotterdam return from 350 pounds into 77 pounds).
3. If necessary buy a return and don't use the second half
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-01-08 18:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
True - if the PA knows that there will be repeat trips, it makes sense to spend the time on the research.

I can quite imagine, though, that the first trip is the one that coins it for Eurostar. And those prices are what has deterred us from using Eurostar before: whereas we know there are flight bargains, train bargains are less obvious.

(Also, I grew up in an age when train bargains were getting rail cards, or season tickets, or off-peak returns.)
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