Blog/20130902 Rail ticket prices Cambridge to London

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Some older entries are here.

A slightly odd blog post perhaps. There are so many options for ticket prices from Cambridge to London, that today I decided to call, and find out prices for all tickets. The call took about 20 minutes. The outcome is below. (For "NSE" and "YPR", see below.) Prices are given in GBP, and I obtained them from National Rail today (2nd September 2013). I have added some example trains, and which tickets you could get.

Hopefully what's below will help to understand the different ticket options better. However, there's obviously no warranty for the accuracy of this information whatsoever! (Needless to say that in time all of this will change!) You can always get up to date train times and ticket prices from http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/.

UPDATE: Note that some of these prices have slightly increased since the date of the post. Bjoern 13:18, 5 August 2014 (BST)

1 To Kings Cross ("London Terminals")

These tickets are valid to Kings Cross, but they should also be valid to Liverpool Street. (Certainly if they say "London Terminals", they should be valid from Liverpool Street.)

1.1 Single tickets

  • Anytime day single 22.00 (YPR 14.50)
  • Super off peak single 15.90. (NSE 10.50)
    • available weekend/bank holiday only.

1.2 Day return tickets

These tickets allow you to come back the same day (or until close of service, i.e. you can travel just after midnight, but not the following morning):

  • Anytime day return 37.50 (YPR, 24.75)
    • Anytime day travel card 45.00 (YPR, 29.70)
    • Useful for travelling before 8:55 / 9:20. If travelling on a weekday, on an earlier train than the slow 8:55 or the fast 9:20, this is your only choice. If you have an YPR, you can use it to get the discounted fare.
    • If you don't need a day travel card, and have an NSE card, you can save a small amount by getting two singles, i.e. on anytime day single without NSE for the outward journey, and then an anytime day single with NSE coming back.
    • Useful for returning late afternoon. If you need to come back 16:29 - 19:00, you also need to get this ticket. If you are going out after 10, you can use your NSE card to get a discount.
  • Off-peak day return 23.00 (NSE, 15.20), Off-peak day travel card 30.00 (NSE 19.80)
    • Restrictions. Outward journey, Monday - Friday: arrive into London before 4:30 or after 10:00
    • Restrictions. Return journey, Monday - Friday: depart London not 16:29 - 19:00 inclusive
    • No restrictions weekend / bank holiday.
    • Travelling at or after 8:55 / 9:20. If you are taking the (fast) 9:20, you'll arrive in London after 10:14, so you can get this ticket (assuming you don't come back 16:29 - 19:00). Your NSE card is not valid, but you can use an YPR card if you have one. With a YPR card or travelling without a discount card, this is the earliest train you can take for the cheapest price on a week day. (You can also take the (slow) 8:55, but it's overtaken by the 9:20.)
    • If you need to come back 16:29 - 19:00 then you cannot take this ticket. You'll have to take an anytime day return instead. Liverpool Street has got slightly different time restrictions for returning in the afternoon, so if you have a "London Terminals" ticket, and you can return from Liverpool Street, see restrictions for Anytime Day Return below.
    • Travelling at or after 10:15. If you are taking the 10:15 (arriving 11:05), you can also use an NSE card. If you need to come back 16:29 - 19:00 then you'll have to take an anytime day return instead, on which you'll still be able to use your NSE card. With an NSE card, this is the earliest train you can take for the cheapest price on a week day.
  • Super-saver off-peak day return 16.00 (NSE, 13.00), Super off-peak day travel card 22.00. (NSE 14.50)
    • Restrictions: ticket available only weekend / bank holiday
    • Travelling on the weekend. Travelling anytime on a weekend / bank holiday, this is the cheapest ticket. On weekends / bank holiday, you can get this for travelling at any time, and your NSE/YPR card will also be valid at any time.
    • Note that it seems that ticket machines sometimes still offer the more expensive off-peak tickets, so make sure you select the super off-peak. There is no difference between the super off-peak and the off-peak tickets on weekends/bank holiday as far as I can tell.
    • I have also heard that the super off-peak tickets didn't use to be available from (some?) ticket machines. In any case, at least some machines at Cambridge do sell super-off peak tickets on weekends.

1.3 Over nighter / over night rider tickets

A new ticket, introduced around July 2014, see also New overnighter ticket. Conditions:

  • Travel out on Friday or Saturday after 2pm
  • Return the next day (Saturday or Sunday) before midday
  • Use it to travel to London, Brighton, Cambridge and Stevenage
  • Can also be used with group save and rail cards.

See [1], [2], [3]

Apparently the cost for an over nighter from Cambridge to London, before rail card discount, is £20.

1.4 Anytime return tickets:

These tickets allow you to come back any time with a month:

  • Anytime return ticket 44.00 (YPR approx 29.30)
    • If you have a YPR, you can use it for a discounted fare.
    • If you have an NSE, and are travelling after 10, you can use it for a discounted fare.
    • If you can come back on weekend or bankholiday, you would be better off buying an anytime single to go out, and a super off peak single to come back.
  • Off-peak anytime return ticket 33.50 (NSE approx 22.30)
    • Restrictions. Outward journey, Monday - Friday: dept after 9:30 on outward journey.
    • Restrictions. Return journey, Monday - Friday: depart after 9:30, and not depart from Kings Cross 17:30-18:30
    • no restrictions on weekend / bank holiday.
    • 09:50. The first train you could take out of Cambridge with this ticket would be the 09:50, arriving 10:44. You could use your YPR on this train. If you only have an NSE, you would need to take the 10:15-11:05 to get the discount.

I believe that on this route, there aren't specially discounted advance tickets available.

1.5 Anytime return tickets with underground

It also seems possible to add underground to the anytime / offpeak return tickets.

2 To Liverpool Street (Greater Anglia train only)

Note that the following tickets are not valid on the route to Kings Cross, but are only valid when using Greater Anglia trains to London Liverpool St. Note that if you are flexible when you can travel or are happy to travel on a specific train, you may be able to get a cheap standard or advance ticket, starting from £6.

2.1 Single tickets:

  • Anytime day single 19.90
  • off-peak day single 19.70
  • super off-peak day single 15.30

2.2 Day return:

  • Anytime day return 33.80 (no any time day travel card)
  • Off-peak day return 19.80
    • off-peak day travel card 23.80
    • Restrictions. Monday - Friday: arrive into London at or after 10:00.
    • Most likely: cannot travel on trains from Liverpool between16:29 and 18:34 inclusive (but I didn't check this - so double check)
    • no restrictions weekend / bank holiday
  • Super-saver off-peak day return 15.40
    • super off-peak day travel card 22.60
    • Restrictions. Monday - Friday: arrive into London at or after 12:00, Mon-Fri, return journey not departing London 15:59-19:01 inclusive
    • no restrictions weekend / bank holiday

2.3 Anytime return:

  • Standard return - this one slipped the net.
  • Off-peak (anytime) return ticket 33.20
    • Restrictions. Monday - Friday: cannot travel on train arriving at Liverpool St, 4:20am-10:00; cannot travel on trains from Liverpool between16:29 and 18:34 inclusive
    • no restrictions on weekend/bank holiday

On this route, there are specially discounted advance tickets available, so it's worth checking that too.

2.4 Special pricing to Liverpool street

According to http://www.greateranglia.co.uk/2for1, you can get GroupSave tickets (4 travel for the price of 2, plus kids for £1) and Duo tickets (second person travels half price at weekends). If you get an advance ticket, they start at £6.

3 Discount cards

The abbreviations NSE and YPR refer to two discount cards., as follows:

NSE, Network South East card:

  • Restrictions: depart after 10am Mon-Fri, anytime weekend/bank holiday
  • available for anybody, valid in the "network South East", which covers e.g. Cambridge, London, Brighton.
  • Where NSE fares are given above, note that the restrictions for the ticket and the NSE card are different, and that you need to satisfy both the restrictions of the train as well as the card!
  • Several people travelling together can get a discount if one person has got an NSE card.

YPR, 16-25 Rail Card, aka Young persons rail card:

  • Restrictions: During Sept-June, 4:30-9:59, minimum fare 12 pounds (after reduction);
  • Restrictions: during july/august, or outside July/August but after 9:59 no restrictions.
  • As long as minimum fare is exceeded, no time restrictions.
  • Available for full-time students older than 25.

I haven't bothered to ask about all prices with discount card. It's typically a 1/3 off, rounded slightly. Other discount cards are available (such as senior citizens, and family rail cards, but the discount is usually also 1/3 off.

4 Other tickets (group, advance)

There are also group discounts available, when several people travel together. E.g. for Liverpool street, see above. There are also advance tickets available on the Liverpool Street route from £6, see above. There are no advance tickets available on the Kings Cross route as far as I can tell.

Season tickets are also available: http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/seasonticket/tickets

5 Prices for tickets London to Cambridge

I usually don't start my journey in London, but ticket prices should be at least roughly the same, except that (obviously) a London day travel card isn't available with those tickets. Going out from London to Cambridge on an off-peak ticket is still subject to time restrictions (e.g. not travelling between 5:30 and 6:30pm). I.e. for an Anytime off-peak return:

  • Restrictions. Outward journey, Monday - Friday: depart after 9:30, and not depart from Kings Cross 17:30-18:30
  • Restrictions. Return journey, Monday - Friday: dept after 9:30 on outward journey.

However, the afternoon restrictions (which you usually have returning from Kings Cross to Cambridge) don't seem to exist when returning from Cambridge to Kings Cross.

6 When do the trains go?

Traintimes.co.uk is a nice and quick service to find train times.

Otherwise you can access National Rail enquiries e.g. like this http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/timesandfares/CBG/KGX/today/0930/dep (which also gives you fares).

7 You and Yours

Interesting story about ticket prices: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03cv477/You_and_Yours_Jeremy_Hunt_talks_social_care/, about 20 mins in. Link to the "Routeing Guide" http://www.atoc.org/about-atoc/rail-settlement-plan/routeing-guide/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Routeing_Guide


2013-09-02 | Leave a comment | Back to blog