A recent survey of rail passengers in the UK by independent watchdog, Passenger Focus, has found that 55% of travellers believe that the price they pay for tickets are not good value for money for the standard of service they receive. However, rather conflictingly the number of passengers that reported that they were satisfied with their journeys rose to an all time high of 83%.

“The message from passengers is clear – investment does pay off,” said Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith.

For some of the busiest commuter routes in the south-east, 82% were fairly satisfied overall with these services.

This survey was completed before the snow disruption at the end of 2009, whereby many travellers complained that they were left in the dark for updates and information as train operators did not update their websites quickly enough or at all about affected journeys. Perhaps if this survey was carried out now the results would be rather different in light of the recent travel chaos down to the weather. What do readers of this blog think? Are you happy with your rail travel? Are ticket prices too high?

Personally, I think that there can be some brilliantly cheap train tickets if you plan quite far in advance (about 3 weeks before the date you travel is a good bet), are flexible with when you travel, buy a ticket for a specific train and of course, use a railcard if you have one. The downsides of rail travel I have found is that if you want to be a little more spontaneous with your travel (especially longer distance travel) then ticket prices can rise up to hundreds of pounds, which is rather restrictive and off-putting. 

I’ve found ‘Best Fare Finder’ on Virgin Trains is rather good for booking in advance and have found tickets from Manchester to London for about £11 each way. If you are lucky enough to have an NUS card, then some routes from Cross Country Trains give a 10% discount, which is quite a decent saving on longer journeys. However, if you want a really cheap journey and don’t mind a longer journey, then the coach is a good alternative. Some journeys from Megabus start from £1 one way with a 50p booking charge, or National Express appear to be having a seat sale at the moment with some seats starting at £5 one way.

If anyone else has any handy travelling tips and deals for trains or coaches, please post them up on the blog!