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Fare play

Customers signal reservations over ticket prices

A train stranded at a station

The new ticketing system has yet to reduce the length of rush hour queues

photograph: Statto

Plans to ‘simplify’ UK rail fares have drawn criticism from passenger groups after it emerged that train operators were using a little-known eleventh-century definition of ‘simplify’ which means ‘to make more expensive’.

The new scheme would see the current befuddling plethora of travel options condensed down to just three: ‘Advance’, ‘Off-peak’ and ‘Second mortgage’.

  1. {tickets} = {off-peak} ∪ {anytime} ∪ {advance}
  2. ∀ {off-peak} ∪ {anytime} ∃ {advance} ⇔ tjourneyt > 86,400 s
  3. t, {off-peak} ⊂ {anytime}
  4. ∀ {tickets}, cost > £100
  5. {tickets} ∩ {good value} = ø
a set theorist; you should see what he said about the old system

The move has drawn girly squeals of delight from conductors accross the UK, as they are being given a wider range of powers to complement the new fare scheme. Francis Bargle, who works for a major UK rail service provider, has recently had his hand-held ticket machine upgraded. It now includes a stopwatch, a button that plays ominous organ music if an off-peak passenger ends up travelling on an on-peak service because the train was late arriving at the station, and a printer which can create emergency loan applications in the event that someone fails to purchase their tickets before boarding the train.

Currently, the cheapest available ticket is a super-saver advance business value apex leisure standard single return, under fire from passengers because it is only available for the first twenty seconds after 6 AM three weeks before your intended journey—found in tests to not be long enough to say the name of the ticket.

Many rail companies have adopted systems of sliding prices more familiar to regular users of budget airlines. ‘We’re looking at ways to adopt the hugely successful easyJet business model,’ explained Roger Bighouse, head of ticket pricing at First Great Western, ‘First, we quadrupled the fares for anyone who doesn’t book over a year in advance; we’re currently looking into how to increase our carbon footprint by a factor of ten or so.’


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