Why should your brain takethe strain forcheaper tickets?

There was a time, not so long ago in the days of British Rail, when buying a train ticket was straightforward.

You simply turned up at the station, went to the booking hall (where you usually found all windows open) and bought your ticket.

There was one price for the journey and a simple and quick transaction followed. Job done.

And then came privatisation of the railways... and the internet.

Today, making that purchase is an excruciating combination of herding cats and knitting fog, but not as exciting.

That is, should you have the time, patience and energy.

For, as we all know, it is far from easy to get the best deal on a train ticket.

There are a plethora of websites all seemingly offering different prices for the same journey.

But those prices differ depending on how you go about your journey.

Go to your nearest station to speak to a human and you will be offered a different price for that same journey.

Break up that trip into different segments and you’ll get it even cheaper. Complicated is not the word for it.

So hats off to Petersfield mechanical engineering graduate Andy Horton for having the time and inclination to find a cheaper way to travel between his home and his girlfriend in Devon.

He managed to halve the cost of his five-hour trip – by splitting the journey into three parts.

Look at the picture accompanying the story on page 11 today and his workings-out may baffle most.

But it really should not be necessary. His brain should not have had to take the strain.

With train travel in this country more popular than ever, it is high time the rail companies, ordered by the government if necessary, devised a fare structure we can all understand.

And we can only sympathise with Southern users who would just love to have the chance to put Andy’s equations into practice...