Friday, 24 June 2011

Cheap Train Fares? Only for Olympic watchers and the Tech-Savvy....

News reaches me that there will be "special" train fares for the Olympics.
The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has announced that a new website will open from late June - - which will offer special fares to spectators. They will also include a free London TravelCard. Railcard holders will be able to get further discounts and early indications are that tickets will be available during peak hours for some journeys.
All well and good - and it is encouraging that our rail companies can get together to offer something like this.
But I suppose my next question will fall on deaf ears to the powers that be.
Why can't we have these "special fares" (or at least some versions of them) all year round?
Of course we can "book ahead" and achieve some great discounts - London Midland are offering a "web only" deal of £9 return Brum - London on some journeys. Great. But you can't even book it at the station. It's another example of a two-tier service for those without Internet access, as those who would have liked to have been in with a shout for Olympic tickets themselves without a computer will testify.
As you're reading this blog, I'll safely assume you're computer-literate, and of course as each generation passes, that number increases. But I know for a fact that amongst friends and family, there are those who don't care much for online banking and all things techie. The news that at least one train company is to stop accepting cheques this week won't help matters. And what about these cyber-space boundars who'll steal your account details as quick as you can say High Speed Two? I include myself in these numbers. For all of my blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting, I'm still nervous about where technology is taking us.
Pushing us down a route where the only game in town is booking train tickets online and removal of human being staff at rail stations as a consequence is a high price to pay for a cheap train ticket.
Yes, technology can be fantastic, especially for us travellers.
But I wonder who has already found themselves with a cheap ticket on their mobile phone and a flat battery to boot.....

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