Train station machines can charge more than twice the price of online tickets, according to the watchdog. Which? found fares purchased online were cheaper around three-quarters of the time and travel on that day costs an average of 52 per cent more from machines. The consumer group deployed mystery shoppers to 15 stations. Rory Boland, editor of the magazine Which? Travel, said: “The price differences we found between booking online and using station ticket machines were simply astounding. “Millions of tickets are purchased using ticket machines every year, meaning that huge numbers of us are potentially paying significantly more than we need to when we commute to work or visit friends and family across the country. “Wherever possible we’d recommend booking train tickets online for the cheapest options, but that won’t be possible for everyone. Significant numbers of elderly people don’t have internet access at all – leaving them with little choice but to run the gauntlet of ticket machines which either don’t offer the best prices, or make it difficult to find the appropriate fares.” A spokeswoman for industry body the Rail Delivery Group said: “Since the industry set out the case for fares reform in 2019, there has been some good progress, but more can be done. “The introduction of single-leg pricing and expansion of pay-as-you-go contactless fares are both important changes making fares easier and simpler for customers. “We will continue to work with Government and industry stakeholders to achieve further reforms and deliver more benefits for our customers.” A one-way fare from Northampton to Cardiff was £107 from a machine, but just £43 from online retailer Trainline – less than half the price. A one-way fare from Holmes Chapel in Cheshire to London was £40 pricier at a smart kiosk (£66) than Trainline’s cheapest split ticket (£26).
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