Thinking about getting away with the kids for half-term next week? Well, you might need to speak to your bank manager first – because it's going to cost you.
For it's been revealed that we're all facing hefty price hikes on trains – with even the cheapest tickets costing up to double what they would in term time.
Scandalous, isn't it?
It's a practice known as 'airline pricing' whereby companies put up their prices when the demand is highest i.e. during school holidays.
The exercise looked at the prices of a cross-section of the cheapest return journeys for a family of four – two adults and two children - during next week's half-term period, and compared them with the same journeys four weeks later in term time.
To compare prices with a normal working week and to avoid complications with the Bank Holiday weekend, the half-term dates chosen for travel were going out on Tuesday May 27 and returning on Friday May 30.
The term-time dates four weeks later were going out on Tuesday June 24 and returning on Friday June 27. Prices were taken from the National Train Enquiries website.
Passenger Focus said: "More transparency is the key issue with cheaper advance fares. As a passenger, you have no idea how many of these cheaper advance fares are available. It could be 1, 10, or 100. And when are they released?"
It said it was impossible to know whether or not the number of cheaper tickets was restricted over the school holidays: "We do not know, and train companies do not disclose, how many Advance Tickets at the various price points exist on each service. So we couldn't say whether the number of the cheapest Advance tickets increases or decreases in periods such as school holidays."
It added: 'Providing more transparency on the number of tickets available and the terms and conditions can only help to improve passenger confidence and trust."
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, accepted that 'airline style pricing' meant prices rise when demand is highest.
But a spokesman said: "In recent years, train companies have vastly increased the number of discounted tickets they offer which are available throughout the year.
"Unfortunately, such tickets tend to sell out more quickly during busy school holidays but families can save a further third off adult fares and 60% off child fares with a Family and Friends Railcard."