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Old 3rd January 2017, 16:25   #1
ChrisD4
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Angry Preston/Lancaster pricing shenanigans

The 17.57 from Euston to Lancaster on the West Coast Main Line on Thursday is £46.60. But if I book to get off at Preston on the same train - some 17 minutes and one stop earlier than Lancaster - I'm asked for £145.
So, the same train, the same line, a shorter journey, yet triple the price.
What's to stop me booking the Lancaster ticket and getting off early? Can I suggest to staff I'm breaking the journey up?

Last edited by ChrisD4; 3rd January 2017 at 16:50.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 16:37   #2
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If it is an advance ticket then no officially your not allowed break of journey or stopping short
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Old 3rd January 2017, 16:44   #3
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It's demand pricing. Far more people travel to Wigan and Preston than Lancaster. That price is a VT off peak half return (SVH). If this is the outward journey then you can't claim break of journey. That is blocked to prevent people doing exactly as you suggest. VT do occasional barrier checks at Preston so it would be picked up if there was one operating.

You could legitimately book a return Lancaster-Euston for £92.20 and use just the return portion to Preston on a break of journey.

Last edited by snail; 3rd January 2017 at 16:47.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 17:21   #4
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Originally Posted by snail View Post
VT do occasional barrier checks at Preston so it would be picked up if there was one operating.
However I am sure there is a way of circumnavigating this by buying a single from the nearest station to Preston (Lostock Hall?) to be on the safe side.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 17:25   #5
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However I am sure there is a way of circumnavigating this by buying a single from the nearest station to Preston (Lostock Hall?) to be on the safe side.
I wouldn't give up your day job to become a professional fare dodger if I were you. There are so many holes in that plan I wouldn't know where to start.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 17:35   #6
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Originally Posted by Bertie the bus View Post
I wouldn't give up your day job to become a professional fare dodger if I were you. There are so many holes in that plan I wouldn't know where to start.
I don't want to dodge fares. I want to know why Virgin are charging me three times as much as people further along the line. I'm using less of their service, and getting penalised for it.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 17:41   #7
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I don't want to dodge fares. I want to know why Virgin are charging me three times as much as people further along the line. I'm using less of their service, and getting penalised for it.
They're charging you the price they think you'll be prepared to pay, that's all.

Same happens with airlines. Stuttgart-London-Singapore and return is less than half the price of London-Singapore return in BA Club World.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 17:58   #8
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Most of the journeys on the West Coast main line have (severe) evening restrictions on off-peak tickets.

(They will say it's to manage the loading better, but it's more likely to extract as much revenue as possible from business travellers from the major cities. but that's another debate...).

For very long distance journeys, the same restrictions would make them almost impossible with an off-peak ticket (e.g., there would only be one service valid to Glasgow, and that arrives after midnight).

So, there is a cutoff point (Lancaster), where the off-peak tickets do not have an evening restriction, which is why it is much cheaper at certain times.

You could wait until later on the evening, or travel to Lancaster and back again, or find some other solution - the situation isn't likely to change for the better.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 18:04   #9
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You could buy the ticket, plus a Lancaster to Preston ticket, and ask the Train Manager (who, incidentally, would be alighting at Preston!) whether or not you are required to double-back to Lancaster in order to travel to Preston (don't mention price).

If the TM says you are permitted to avoid the double-back, then that validates your journey, and you show the Lancaster-Preston ticket at Preston if a ticket inspection takes place (which I believe is fairly likely if using the footbridge, but rather less likely if using the underpass)
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Old 3rd January 2017, 18:11   #10
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I'm using less of their service, and getting penalised for it.
If anything you're being penalised (not sure I like the use of the word in this context, but let's go with it) for wanting to get to somewhere popular. Fares are set by origin/destination pairs, not by distance. Fewer people want to travel to Lancaster so it's cheaper - the fact that the train happens to pass through Preston is an artefact of geography.

There are some who argue that the Railway should move to distance-based pricing but, while that would remove anomalies such as yours, it's far from clear that more passengers would benefit than lose out.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 18:39   #11
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It's demand pricing. Far more people travel to Wigan and Preston than Lancaster.
Quite, but either the seat's there or it isn't. If there is that much demand for Wigan and Preston then where is the room to stuff people going to Lancaster for a third of the price?

Advance pricing needs a serious overhaul - some tickets are too cheap.

I've just traveled from Manchester to London in 2 hours 12 minutes on a day when it would have taken 6 hours by car. The service was exceptional, it made so much more sense than driving and yet... it cost just £14.50. Rail offers a far superior service offering than either private car or air on this route, so why charge so little for it?

Whilst personally I was over the moon to pay so little for so much I'd have made the trip had it been 50% more expensive and it seems nonsense that the cheapest possible ticket from, say, Worcester to Cheltenham, a journey of just over 20 miles, is barely any cheaper.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 18:45   #12
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Originally Posted by AlterEgo View Post
They're charging you the price they think you'll be prepared to pay, that's all.

Same happens with airlines. Stuttgart-London-Singapore and return is less than half the price of London-Singapore return in BA Club World.
I get that, but this is a bit different though - I'm using the same train, for less time. Your analogy involves a different route and different flights.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 18:48   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisD4 View Post
The 17.57 from Euston to Lancaster on the West Coast Main Line on Thursday is £46.60. But if I book to get off at Preston on the same train - some 17 minutes and one stop earlier than Lancaster - I'm asked for £145.
So, the same train, the same line, a shorter journey, yet triple the price.
What's to stop me booking the Lancaster ticket and getting off early? Can I suggest to staff I'm breaking the journey up?

You could ask for a Cumbria dayranger and then use that for any Preston/Lancaster combination...
Edit:
Which is still overly expensive but most definitely conscience clearing...

This reminds me of the Grand Central debarcle in another thread... It might be worth reading
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Last edited by TrainfanBen; 3rd January 2017 at 18:58. Reason: Friendly advice.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 18:52   #14
ChrisD4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by najaB View Post
If anything you're being penalised (not sure I like the use of the word in this context, but let's go with it) for wanting to get to somewhere popular. Fares are set by origin/destination pairs, not by distance. Fewer people want to travel to Lancaster so it's cheaper - the fact that the train happens to pass through Preston is an artefact of geography.

There are some who argue that the Railway should move to distance-based pricing but, while that would remove anomalies such as yours, it's far from clear that more passengers would benefit than lose out.
It is being penalised because we are still passing THROUGH the more expensive station. If I start from Lancaster, I still have a seat on the train at the far more expensive starting point of Preston.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 19:07   #15
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Quote:
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It is being penalised because we are still passing THROUGH the more expensive station.
As I said, an artefact of geography. Hence the restriction on break of journey on the outward.
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