Data Graphics

The Geography of Cheap Train Tickets

Dmitry Adamskiy has built a map of the prices of “advance-purchase” train tickets to anywhere in Great Britain, from several key locations, e.g. London, Birmingham, Liverpool. The dots on the map are colour coded from green to red depending on how cheap or expensive the fares are.

Some striking patterns appear, looking at, for instance the London departure map (shown above). The capital is surrounded by a belt of high ticket prices – the commuter belt – with cheaper tickets generally beyond. The line to King’s Lynn is expensive all the way – but the rest of East Anglia is much cheaper. Birmingham, the south coast and the west coast of Wales are also notable cheap areas. One of the Welsh Valley lines stands out as being much more expensive than the others.

Some other distinctive trends are obvious when departing from Brighton (shown below) – which is only an hour away from London. Suddenly, the eastern half of the country is consistently more expensive to visit than the west. It’s very cheap to get into London on the Southern Railway services, but expensive to visit other parts of the capital, away from the centre. Birmingham and Bristol are quite a bit cheaper cheaper than most of London.

The map can be viewed here. Click on a dot to see the station name and ticket price. There are some notes here.

The background mapping is based on OpenStreetMap. I’m not sure from where Dimitry has obtained his pricing information or station location information from.

11 replies on “The Geography of Cheap Train Tickets”

@oobr Great blog – pity my red-green colour blindness makes it difficult to distinguish some (not all) points on Adamskiy’s original map 🙁


Thanks again for the inspiration provided and your code! 🙂

Just to answer the last questions — the prices are scraped from the railway companies websites. Not sure how valid those actions are but I guess they must provide this database anyway if asked.

As for coordinates — I took the list of stations with postcodes from Wikipedia and then used a postcode-to-coordinate convertor as in the UK postcodes are much more precise than in most countries. There were some mistakes in Wikipedia list, I corrected some of them but I am pretty sure that not all.

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