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Old 3rd January 2017, 23:13   #1
DynamicSpirit
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Default What Would a Good System for Working out Fares Look Like?

(On yorkie's implicit request )

Many of us agree the current fares system is in many ways ludicrous and inconsistent. This has been highlighted in this thread, which points out that on Virgin trains leaving London during the evening peak, you can pay a lot more to travel to Preston than you would if you remain one extra stop to Lancaster.

It's easy to criticise the system, but I'd suggest devising a system that is good and doesn't have glaring inconsistencies is a lot harder. So - what would a reasonable, fair (sorry for the pun) system look like? Would it still have cheap returns? Would it be distance travelled based? Or as-the-crow-flies-to-destination based? How would peak restrictions work? Would there still be season tickets (which you could argue are unfair to people who travel occasionally). Any other ideas?

As a bit of material to start your ideas, here are some relevant quotes from that London-Preston thread linked to above:

Quote:
Originally Posted by DynamicSpirit View Post
I actually suspect a system that looks completely fair by mileage would be impossible - there are too many places where lack of direct routes, or presence of alternative routes would muck up either the consistency or the fairness of any attempted system.

For example, in an ideal world, how would you price a Brighton to Crowborough ticket? By likely actual travelled distance or by as-the-crow-flies distance to the destination? Should it be more or less expensive than a ticket from Brighton to Oxted (for which the person is on the train for a shorter distance but actually going to a destination that's considerably further away - and therefore you could argue is getting much more utility from the ticket).

Or - in an ideal world, should Horsham to Worthing be cheaper or more expensive than Horsham to Shoreham? After all, depending on your route, you could reasonably reach either destination via the other one!
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Originally Posted by daodao View Post
The whole point of the thread is surely to illustrate a ticket anomaly, of which there are many. There used to be a similar anomaly on the evening peak train from Paddington to Carmarthen for journeys beyond Swansea.

The sooner that there is a move back to distance-based pricing, the better. In addition, trains should be designated as wholly off-peak or peak with respect to ticket restrictions for each segment of the trip. However, split-ticketing can often reduce the price and minimise the effect of peak fares, particularly where there are intermediate stops beyond which journeys are not subject to peak restrictions.

Last edited by DynamicSpirit; 3rd January 2017 at 23:18.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 23:27   #2
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Mileage based pricing is unviable because it would result in congested routes being too cheap, and little-used lines becoming too expensive. Penzance to Plymouth would become rather more expensive than Reading to London!

Here are some questions I asked before; the supporters of mileage based pricing are often reluctant to actually tell us how it would work and what the implication for fares would actually be...
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Originally Posted by yorkie View Post
1) Please give me the proposed fares from York to Whitby for a day return, avoiding Darlington, and tell me how this fare is calculated and whether you think it will be competitive with the coach service provided by Coastliner that costs only slightly more than the current rail ticket price but offers a shorter journey time? Also if I was to start the journey at Church Fenton, would that add to the cost?

2) Please give me the proposed fares from York to London for a day return, and if this is lower than current prices, tell me where the revenue will be brought in to compensate EC for the revenue loss?

3) Please give me the proposed fares for a return from Peterborough to Leicester, and also Peterborough to Nottingham, and let me know how you are calculating the mileage and whether under your system it will be permitted to travel from Peterborough to Nottingham via Leicester or not, and if someone does go via Leicester what excess will be charged (if any)?

4) Please give me the proposed fares for a return from London St Pancras to Ashford Intl (and any routeing options you wish to provide) and would those fares apply from, say, London Charing Cross to Ashford Intl? Please give me your calculations for different termini, if they vary..
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Old 4th January 2017, 00:00   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yorkie View Post
Mileage based pricing is unviable because it would result in congested routes being too cheap, and little-used lines becoming too expensive. Penzance to Plymouth would become rather more expensive than Reading to London!

Here are some questions I asked before; the supporters of mileage based pricing are often reluctant to actually tell us how it would work and what the implication for fares would actually be...
In my opinion, the rate per mile for mileage based pricing should vary depending on the route and the quality of the train service offered, but would be equitable for that route, e.g. assuming that for the route London-Reading there is a fixed rate per mile for the entire distance, the sum of the prices for the journeys from London-Slough and Slough-Reading should equal the price from London-Reading. This would reduce the attractiveness of split ticketing. Not long ago, I made a day return journey from Hartford to (Birmingham) University and splitting the ticket at Stafford approximately halved the price!

However, the route Plymouth-Penzance could have a different rate per mile, so a journey from Plymouth-Par (similar distance to Paddington-Reading) could be cheaper to reflect the fact the service quality and speed is worse.

Where there are potential alternative routes, the price set should be determined by the shortest route, with alternative permitted routes having the same fare, but the permitted alternate routes should be clearly specified.
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Old 4th January 2017, 01:04   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daodao View Post
In my opinion, the rate per mile for mileage based pricing should vary depending on the route and the quality of the train service offered, but would be equitable for that route, e.g. assuming that for the route London-Reading there is a fixed rate per mile for the entire distance, the sum of the prices for the journeys from London-Slough and Slough-Reading should equal the price from London-Reading. This would reduce the attractiveness of split ticketing. Not long ago, I made a day return journey from Hartford to (Birmingham) University and splitting the ticket at Stafford approximately halved the price!

However, the route Plymouth-Penzance could have a different rate per mile, so a journey from Plymouth-Par (similar distance to Paddington-Reading) could be cheaper to reflect the fact the service quality and speed is worse.

Where there are potential alternative routes, the price set should be determined by the shortest route, with alternative permitted routes having the same fare, but the permitted alternate routes should be clearly specified.
In that case I await with great anticipation what the figures will be

You say Penzance-Plymouth would be a different rate per mile than Reading-Paddington, but how would Penzance-Paddington be calculated?

Poppleton to Sheffield would be priced for 49 mile journey, but is valid by considerably longer distances than that, e.g. via Harrogate, Leeds, & Doncaster. So, what price is it to be?

So how much would Harrogate to Conisbrough cost? That's over 4 miles longer than Poppleton to Sheffield (by the shortest route) yet you could buy a Poppleton to Sheffield, start short & finish short! I think you are going to have some interesting anomalies.
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Old 4th January 2017, 01:46   #5
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I recall creating a thread on fare clusters many months ago. I wonder if revising which stations belonged to which cluster may yield a fairer pricing structure...
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Old 4th January 2017, 08:31   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yorkie View Post
In that case I await with great anticipation what the figures will be

You say Penzance-Plymouth would be a different rate per mile than Reading-Paddington, but how would Penzance-Paddington be calculated?

Poppleton to Sheffield would be priced for 49 mile journey, but is valid by considerably longer distances than that, e.g. via Harrogate, Leeds, & Doncaster. So, what price is it to be?

So how much would Harrogate to Conisbrough cost? That's over 4 miles longer than Poppleton to Sheffield (by the shortest route) yet you could buy a Poppleton to Sheffield, start short & finish short! I think you are going to have some interesting anomalies.
Penzance-Paddington would be the sum of the (mileage rate x distance) for each sector that had a different rate/mile.

There would need to be compromises where there are alternate roundabout, but reasonable routes, and might need to be 2 prices in such a case (in some ways contradicting my previous comment): one for specified route(s) and a more expensive one for any permitted route where more roundabout routes are deemed acceptable, e.g. to Poppleton via Harrogate, from Leeds and beyond, in the example that you quoted. In this case, prices to Poppleton via Harrogate would be priced based on the longer distance via this route.
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Old 4th January 2017, 08:41   #7
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The only mileage based system that will remove *all* anomalies is an Anytime-only per-mile (or as I said "fractional power exponential" type system) based on rail miles with fully explicit routeing (i.e. a ticket is valid for *one* route and must be excessed to use any other route, be it longer or shorter).

Any other mileage based system will create anomalies of some kind.
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Old 4th January 2017, 10:43   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
The only mileage based system that will remove *all* anomalies is an Anytime-only per-mile (or as I said "fractional power exponential" type system) based on rail miles with fully explicit routeing (i.e. a ticket is valid for *one* route and must be excessed to use any other route, be it longer or shorter).
Which is why I always say to be careful what you wish for - fare 'simplification' will mean more expensive fares, fewer passenger rights or both.
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Old 4th January 2017, 10:53   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yorkie View Post
Poppleton to Sheffield would be priced for 49 mile journey, but is valid by considerably longer distances than that, e.g. via Harrogate, Leeds, & Doncaster. So, what price is it to be?
Each journey would be priced according to the route you wish to take in exactly the same way as happens in countries such as Germany. There, when you enter the your destination in the TVM it lists the next few trains with a price against each one. You make your choice using whatever cost, time, train type filters you prefer and pay for the appropriate ticket with the option to print the supporting itinerary if you want.

My response to your questions in post #2 remains the same as the last time you asked.

Last edited by sheff1; 4th January 2017 at 11:07. Reason: see below
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Old 4th January 2017, 10:58   #10
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For clarity, SBB doesn't work that way, though DB does.
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Old 4th January 2017, 11:05   #11
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Thanks, I thought it did, but have amended the post accordingly.
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Old 4th January 2017, 11:17   #12
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The way SBB do it is that you get asked to choose a route (not a specific connection), though each choice tends to include a few options e.g. "via Olten or Bern" being one route selection for Geneva to Zuerich. You can, unlike the UK, specify any route you like, and it'll calculate the fare, being kilometric. But that option is really something for enthusiasts and I suspect is rarely used by normal passengers who probably just take the obvious route. (The network is less of a web than the UK system, and more a set of sometimes-interconnected branches off a couple of main spines, with relatively few journeys where multiple routes make sense).
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Old 4th January 2017, 15:37   #13
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Split the map into cells, each border between 2 cells has a crossing price set according to how busy/popular it is. Your ticket is valid on any route where the total crossing prices is less than that of the main route.
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Old 4th January 2017, 16:09   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daodao View Post
There would need to be compromises where there are alternate roundabout, but reasonable routes, and might need to be 2 prices in such a case (in some ways contradicting my previous comment): one for specified route(s) and a more expensive one for any permitted route where more roundabout routes are deemed acceptable, e.g. to Poppleton via Harrogate, from Leeds and beyond, in the example that you quoted. In this case, prices to Poppleton via Harrogate would be priced based on the longer distance via this route.
So you'd charge more for the direct service which could well be on a pacer and takes longer than for a journey that would mostly be on a far more modern train. Northern currently offer cheaper fares via Harrogate - I suspect that if this was reversed the line via Harrogate may require higher subsidies to survive. Are you happy with this as a side effect?
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Old 4th January 2017, 16:15   #15
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Quote:
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So you'd charge more for the direct service which could well be on a pacer and takes longer than for a journey that would mostly be on a far more modern train. Northern currently offer cheaper fares via Harrogate - I suspect that if this was reversed the line via Harrogate may require higher subsidies to survive. Are you happy with this as a side effect?
Provided the income to the railway as a whole remained the same, which would be achieved by setting the per-mile figure appropriately, franchise agreements could be renegotiated in order to move the requisite money around to counter this problem. They'd need to be renegotiated for any substantial fares system change anyway.

With regard to train "qualities" I suppose we could look at an InterCity supplement, but really I think there is no particular need to differentiate, as preferred train types are, as we have often seen here, very subjective. After all, there are people who would pay extra to go on a Pendolino and people who would pay extra not to - and I have waxed lyrical to a friend about the PKP Stadler FLIRT (interior a bit like a 350/1 but using the GWR HST style seats) and he wasn't impressed with it.

And, as I said, if you make it *too* complicated with supplements etc you practically have to go to per-train ticketing anyway, even if you allow free of charge/fare-difference-only changes.
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