Rail fare anomaly between Ipswich and London

I recently seen a at Cambridge station advertising cheap weekend returns to London so I thought I’d check the fare splitting via the longer route.

This is looking at the super off-peak day returns or nearest equivalent.

On the direct Ipswich to London Liverpool Street ticket there is only an off peak return valid for a month at £42.20 or the off peak travelcard for a single day at £47.50.

The most common split is at Manningtree as some trains don’t stop at Colchester.

IPS-MNGOff peak day return£6.60
MNG-LSTSuper off peak day return£29.90
Total£36.50
Saving compared direct fare£5.70

Splitting in Colchester is cheaper:

IPS-COLSuper off peak day return£8.30
COL-LSTSuper off peak day return£25.90
Total£34.20
Saving compared to direct fare£8.00

Weekend return via Cambridge turns out to a whopping £11 cheaper compared to the direct single ticket, or £3 compared to the cheapest split ticket, if returning the same day:

IPS-CBGOff peak day return£18.20
CBG-LSTWeekend Super Off Peak Day Return

Total£31.20

Saving compared to direct fare£11.00

Saving compared to cheapest direct split£3.00

However this involves a much longer journey time. Ipswich – Cambridge is around 1 hour 20 minutes. There’s one train per hour. Cambridge to Liverpool Street on direct trains takes around 1 hour 26 minutes to 1 hour 38 minutes with 2 trains per hour. Due to the timings, and long layover in Cambridge, particularly towards Ipswich, the total through journey time is around 2 hours 50 minutes towards London and 3 to 4 hours towards Ipswich.

In comparison the typical journey times on the direct route from Ipswich to London on trains stopping at either Manningtree or Colchester is around 1 hour 07 mins to 1 hour 23 minutes. Thus it’s very much faster on the more direct route for a tiny saving. If planning far enough ahead advance fares would be cheaper than the above walk up fares.

Hopefully the current UK rail fares review run by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).