Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Travelling from London to Birmingham in the morning peak

If you need to travel from London to Birmingham during the Monday to Friday morning peak, currently there is no question that Chiltern Railways offer the best value for money fares. Any journey is available for £27.50 super off-peak return which is huge saving on LondonMidland's £69 Anytime Return and Virgin's eye-watering £154 Anytime Return (Virgin's 0603 from Euston has off-peak fare availability of £47 return whilst LM's fare drops to £28 off-peak return from the 0846 - change at Rugby).

Alas from 2nd January 2013, Chiltern are barring super off-peak fares from London between 0630 and 0900 Monday to Friday making the morning fares off-peak at £50 return. Admittedly, this is still cheaper than the two competing TOCs though the journey times and facilities are slower and fewer respectively than Virgin's offering. BUT the fare change does open the way for LondonMidland to exploit the advantages of its new 'change at Rugby' 0846 fast service from Euston to Birmingham.

A comparison of the Chiltern and LondonMidland offerings is illuminating.

The 0845 Chiltern Mainline Silver Set service takes almost exactly 2 hours to reach Moor Street. If you were to return on the 1555 Mainline Silver Set from Moor Street the journey time would be 1 hour 44 mins. For the £50 fare, you get comfortable carriages with tables and power points, free wifi, catering, and for £30 more the Business Zone in both directions.

The 0846 LondonMidland Desiro service to Birmingham by changing at Rugby takes either 1 hour 56 mins if you stick to LondonMidland trains (fare £28) or 1 hour 41 mins (fare £34.40) if you catch the following Virgin Pendolino (10 min change at Rugby). Coming back, the xx.54 LM services from New Street take 1 hour 55 mins by changing at Rugby (no speedier Virgin connection)

Of course, LM don't offer power points with the tables in Standard Class nor is there WiFi or catering. However, if cost is your primary consideration then the 0846 could be a winner.

UPDATE - LondonMidland are offering 25% off off-peak fares for journeys in the first quarter of 2013 if they are booked by Sunday January 6th 2013 (http://www.londonmidland.com/sale/).

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