A standard anytime ticket covering the six miles of rail travel between Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport costs £4.90. Yet with five rail firms competing between the two stations, you could cover the same distance, nonstop for one-seventh of the price.
The final destination for the meandering journey via Shrewsbury and Hereford is South Wales. An anytime one-way ticket from Manchester to Swansea costs £98 on TfW. But for the first leg of the journey, passengers are spoilt for choice: Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Northern and TransPennine Express all compete for customers between Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport.
Northern typically offers Manchester-Stockport (and a wide range of other short journeys) for a flat £2 – the same as the bus fare. But TfW appears to have decided to try to capture as much of the market as possible with a fare of just 70p each way.
While it is an advance ticket, The Independent had no problem buying tickets a few hours before departure. Railcard holders can save a further 25p, taking the cost down to 45p.
The undiscounted fare per mile is just under 12 pence. The UK’s most expensive train-per-mile is also on Transport for Wales. The 0.21-mile link from Ty Glas in the northern suburbs of Cardiff to almost-adjacent Birchgrove costs £2.60. This represents a price-per-mile of £12.24, more than 100 times as much as the Manchester-Stockport trip.
Buying a cup of tea on board during the brief journey from Manchester to Stockport would more than quadruple the cost of the trip to £3.
Margaret and Harvey Locke, who live in Stockport and travel regularly to and from Manchester, were unaware of the 70p deal until The Independent revealed it.
“Unbelievable,” said Margaret Locke. “We couldn’t believe it,” echoed Harvey Locke. “How did you manage that?”
The ticket is available on all UK rail-booking sites, and can be supplied as a paper ticket or an e-ticket.
The cheap deal might stimulate a tourism boom for Stockport. Harvey Locke said: “Stockport is great for getting elsewhere. You can be in the Peak District in 20 minutes.”
When pressed for tourists lures, he said: “You’ve got the air-raid shelters, a visitor…