ALR loophole for KGX

Ianno87

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The ALR is an enthusiast ticket. It's not even really a tourist ticket, as foreign travellers will tend to buy InterRail instead as it is cheaper, and a domestic non-enthusiast tourist would find it cheaper to book Advances.
Definitely - you have to get *alot* of use out of an ALR to make it worthwhile, and basically travel for every day of it's validity with longish journeys. That's only of interest to enthusiasts, really.


The 0833 to Leeds does doesn't it?
Surely the 0833 to Leeds departs Stevenage before 10 am ?
The 0933 from King's Cross departs Stevenage at 0955. The next train is the 1006 from King's Cross.
 
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mrcheek

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When deciding if the ALR is good value, the comparison should not be with European tickets, where as we all know, rail travel is heavily subsidised by the general taxpayer.
The comparison needs to be with other UK fares.
In which case, the ALR is tremendous value. And I speak as someone who does a 2 week First Class ALR every single year. For the last 13 years.
 

Ianno87

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When deciding if the ALR is good value, the comparison should not be with European tickets, where as we all know, rail travel is heavily subsidised by the general taxpayer.
The comparison needs to be with other UK fares.
In which case, the ALR is tremendous value. And I speak as someone who does a 2 week First Class ALR every single year. For the last 13 years.
Depends what type of fare you're comparing to (Walk up or Advance), how much flexibility you're prepared to sacrifice (route or flexibility) to get the best Advance price that day, and whether you want to travel absolutely every single day.

On interrail, we had been planning a 3 week family interrrail this year (which didn't happen for obvious reasons). A 10 days in one month flexipass worked out as about €100/day, compared to various fixed price singles that were typically €50-80 per leg (1 leg/day), but with the advantage of seat reservations etc arranged at the same time. But we didn't need any 'flexibility' as such as our start/end points were fixed and we just needed one itinerary between them.
 

Hadders

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Definitely - you have to get *alot* of use out of an ALR to make it worthwhile, and basically travel for every day of it's validity with longish journeys. That's only of interest to enthusiasts, really.





The 0933 from King's Cross departs Stevenage at 0955. The next train is the 1006 from King's Cross.
In the FOI I referred to above, there is an email exchange involving the the East Coast Pricing Manager who says their staff would be briefed to allow an ALR to be used at 09:55 from SVG (which I think was then a southbound service to London). Clearly this is an email FOI request from 10 years ago and so cannot be relied upon but it might be worth asking LNER, or maybe some helpful forum members could comment on whether any other easements are in place


NOTE: East Coast will actually allow it to be used at Stevenage 09:55 or later for consistent validity on the Harrogate-London train
Here's the link to the original thread on the restrictions.

 

Ianno87

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In the FOI I referred to above, there is an email exchange involving the the East Coast Pricing Manager who says their staff would be briefed to allow an ALR to be used at 09:55 from SVG (which I think was then a southbound service to London). Clearly this is an email FOI request from 10 years ago and so cannot be relied upon but it might be worth asking LNER, or maybe some helpful forum members could comment on whether any other easements are in place




Here's the link to the original thread on the restrictions.

Yes, that 0955 refers to a *southbound* service. Otherwise it would be valid throughout for any journey on the Harrogate-Kings X service, *except* for any journey involving boarding/alighting at Stevenage. Which would be very odd!


There is no equivalent service today - the ex-Harrogate now calls at 1005 so this is no longer an issue.
 

30907

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The odd thing with ALRs is that considering the only people likely to use them would generally be of the more informed type I would have thought most would have figured out a way to acquire interrail or britrail products that are less than half the price, have no restrictions and are available as much more useful flexi tickets.
Not sure most of us UK citizens have a convenient and legitimate non-UK address and/or dual nationality though :)
 

jfollows

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I'd guess because in some longer distance commutes £356.40 for a discounted ALR is cheaper than a normal season ticket. Infact some weekly season tickets probably come close to the £540 at full price, discouraging peak usage is quite smart!
Absolutely, I lived in the centre of Manchester 1996 to 2008 and would buy an ALR if I had two business trips to London in one week, or three trips in two weeks. Similar or lower price than separate tickets and I claimed the lower of the actual fare paid or the individual ticket cost on expenses, so my employer wasn't out of pocket. I then had 5 or 11 days of free travel I could use myself if I took time off work.

It was a big problem getting someone to sell me the ALR, that was my major problem. Manchester Oxford Road couldn't manage it, and Manchester Piccadilly used the wrong blank ticket stock.

I once bought a one-month Britrail pass, but I had a US address at the time, it was no problem. I wouldn't think of doing this now. I picked the ticket up at Gatwick Airport and didn't have a problem doing so, I'd have been annoyed if I had. I carried my proof of US residence with me, of course, but was never asked for it.

I bought an ALR a year ago with a Two Together railcard (this time Wilmslow station had never heard of the ticket, but managed to work out how to sell me the correct ticket on the correct ticket stock!), so the start time restrictions were more onerous than the Euston arrival time restrictions anyway. I'm aware of the "way around" the restrictions but for now I've been happy to stick with the intent of the rule - I'm not working any more so I've not got a strong incentive to want to get to London that early anyway.

EDIT - similar calculations provide similar results today.
3xSOR Manchester-London costs 3x£360=£1,080
14-day ALR First Class costs £1,250
so for £170 of my own money I'd get First Class travel and 11 extra days

When I used to do this it made sense for me to use open return tickets. I once manned a stand at Kensington Olympia and commuted from Manchester, at the time there was a peak service which called at Stockport, Wilmslow and Watford Junction. It meant a relatively early start but a cooked breakfast and my own bed at night.
 
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Ianno87

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Absolutely, I lived in the centre of Manchester 1996 to 2008 and would buy an ALR if I had two business trips to London in one week, or three trips in two weeks. Similar or lower price than separate tickets and I claimed the lower of the actual fare paid or the individual ticket cost on expenses, so my employer wasn't out of pocket. I then had 5 or 11 days of free travel I could use myself if I took time off work.
Technically, shouldn't that count as a taxable benefit?

The employers I've had specifically state that any Season Ticket purchased for work travel must not be used for any additional personal travel.
 

jfollows

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Technically, shouldn't that count as a taxable benefit?

The employers I've had specifically state that any Season Ticket purchased for work travel must not be used for any additional personal travel.
Well, we've digressed a bit from the original topic for sure! But I doubt it, not least because how much would the benefit actually have been? Quite likely that it was zero in money terms, the money reimbursed was appropriate for the business trips made and the fact that I'd bought a ticket which included extra validity at no cost (or sometimes at small extra cost to myself) couldn't be taxed. However I wasn't incented to look closely into this as you can imagine!

However I can see that these days I'd probably be asked "why didn't you buy an Advance ticket?" which seems to be a 'requirement' of some company travel. But when I worked for myself I didn't impose that 'rule' on myself!
 

RJ

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Where there's a will, there's a way. If setting up residency abroad allows cheaper travel then why not research a legitimate way to qualify and use the Interrail pass?

As time goes on I've often wondered about the value of the ALR for leisure travellers. I'm the type of person to take completely capricious trips around the UK from time to time, sometimes without even knowing where I intend to stay until the evening (4/5* hotels come at zero cost). I kill a few birds with one zone, remote working, visiting people, visiting towns and covering lines I haven't done. I can't justify buying an ALR at all. Buying normal tickets, Advance fares and other regional tickets works out a lot cheaper than an ALR.

I suspect a lot of people who buy ALRs either put a massive value on flexibility or simply don't mind spending on things that offer poor value for money, which is an individual choice. Even being a rail enthusiast, how many people really want to spend 7 or 14 days straight travelling on intercity trains just to say they got value out of an ALR? If you are wanting to cover lines then better value fares are available, without the pressure of having to do it over such a long continuous time period.

How many people using an ALR for business will find it useful with the 10am London and Birmingham restrictions? If avoiding those places there are probably better value fares available. That said I'm sure there are a handful of people who will get genuine value because the only other tickets that suit their needs are expensive SOS and SOR fares.

I did a couple of First Class ALRs a few years back but looking back, I'm not sure I'd buy one again for a few reasons;
  • The differential between the First Class and Standard Class hard products has decreased with time
  • Standard Class has improved with much wider availability of plug sockets and tables than there once was
  • Large parts of the UK have limited or no First Class availability. Scotland and Wales for example. First Class with catering is more limited still.
  • The reliability of First Class catering - the "complimentary not meaning guaranteed" trope is trotted out to customers a bit too often as an excuse for not providing the advertised service. Some TOCs struggle with consistency
  • The "you don't belong here" attitude some staff take when you sit in, or attempt to enter First Class. On some occasions it was so bad I took my things and sat in Standard
  • Poor or non-existent policing of First Class accommodation on commuter TOCs leading to issues with anti-social behaviour and the compartments being abused
The sweet spots however are the nicer trains - the GWR HSTs refurbished in their swansong years smashed it out of the park. The delightful service offered aboard Hull Trains and the WAG Express. LNER and Avanti are great when full service is delivered and of course the lounges. Cardiff was a haven of railwayana and King's Cross was resplendent. EMT had it just right with both the hard and soft products - I loved the optional hot food offering but I hear it has been done away with :(.

As for the loophole, I did it under the old NRCoC 19c rule, not that anybody was enforcing the time restrictions anyway. 1st ticket from Farringdon to Finsbury Park. The issue of familiarity with the validity of uncommon tickets cuts both ways. If the RDG said it still applies under NRCoT 14.2 fair enough and good luck to anyone who does bother with an ALR!
 
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RT4038

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Where there's a will, there's a way. If setting up residency abroad allows cheaper travel then why not research a legitimate way to qualify and use the Interrail pass?

As time goes on I've often wondered about the value of the ALR for leisure travellers. I'm the type of person to take completely capricious trips around the UK from time to time, sometimes without even knowing where I intend to stay until the evening (4/5* hotels come at zero cost). I kill a few birds with one zone, remote working, visiting people, visiting towns and covering lines I haven't done. I can't justify buying an ALR at all. Buying normal tickets, Advance fares and other regional tickets works out a lot cheaper than an ALR.

I suspect a lot of people who buy ALRs either put a massive value on flexibility or simply don't mind spending on things that offer poor value for money, which is an individual choice. Even being a rail enthusiast, how many people really want to spend 7 or 14 days straight travelling on intercity trains just to say they got value out of an ALR? If you are wanting to cover lines then better value fares are available, without the pressure of having to do it over such a long continuous time period.

How many people using an ALR for business will find it useful with the 10am London and Birmingham restrictions? If avoiding those places there are probably better value fares available. That said I'm sure there are a handful of people who will get genuine value because the only other tickets that suit their needs are expensive SOS and SOR fares.

I did a couple of First Class ALRs a few years back but looking back, I'm not sure I'd buy one again for a few reasons;
  • The differential between the First Class and Standard Class hard products has decreased with time
  • Standard Class has improved with much wider availability of plug sockets and tables than there once was
  • Large parts of the UK have limited or no First Class availability. Scotland and Wales for example. First Class with catering is more limited still.
  • The reliability of First Class catering - the "complimentary not meaning guaranteed" trope is trotted out to customers a bit too often. Some TOCs struggle with providing a consistent service
  • The "you don't belong here" attitude some staff take when you sit in, or attempt to enter First Class. On some occasions it was so bad I took my things and sat in Standard
  • Poor or non-existent policing of First Class accommodation on commuter TOCs leading to issues with anti-social behaviour and the compartments being abused
As for the loophole, I did it under the old NRCoC 19c rule, not that anybody was enforcing the time restrictions anyway. The issue of familiarity with the validity of uncommon tickets cuts both ways. If the RDG said it still applies under NRCoT 14.2 fair enough and good luck to anyone who does bother with an ALR!
Most of your reasons in the bullet points are nothing to do with the ALR product; more the differential between 1st and Standard.

I should imagine that an ALR would appeal to a fairly dedicated enthusiast who wished to travel extensively to ride particular lines and/or particular trains over a wide area, but is unable or can't be bothered with trying to buy separate tickets which may or may not be cheaper. Not everyone is a ticketing enthusiast.
 

jfollows

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As time goes on I've often wondered about the value of the ALR for leisure travellers. I'm the type of person to take completely capricious trips around the UK from time to time, sometimes without even knowing where I intend to stay until the evening (4/5* hotels come at zero cost). I kill a few birds with one zone, remote working, visiting people, visiting towns and covering lines I haven't done. I can't justify buying an ALR at all. Buying normal tickets, Advance fares and other regional tickets works out a lot cheaper than an ALR.
I completely agree - the ALR I bought last year was more expensive than separate tickets would have been. I justified it to myself because of the flexibility and the ability to change my mind, which was worth something, so I'll probably do it again, perhaps in October 2021 when I'm 60 and get a railcard. And, again, I'll probably not use it enough to warrant it on cost of tickets alone.
 

RJ

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Most of your reasons in the bullet points are nothing to do with the ALR product; more the differential between 1st and Standard.

I should imagine that an ALR would appeal to a fairly dedicated enthusiast who wished to travel extensively to ride particular lines and/or particular trains over a wide area, but is unable or can't be bothered with trying to buy separate tickets which may or may not be cheaper. Not everyone is a ticketing enthusiast.
Making use of an ALR in itself requires some level of planning skill. Checking timetables, making provisions for overnight stays and meals, recalculating plans during disruption etc. Someone who is capable of doing those things is likely to decide on whether or not an ALR really offers good value. Without those skills there's the danger of riding up and down mainlines and doing a few branches which can be done for a fraction of the price of an ALR.

I totally get that not everyone is a ticketing enthusiast (I sell tickets to people as a profession), but most people do alright with knowing where they are going and buying a ticket for that journey without paying hundreds for the privilege.

As for the First Class ALR I felt I didn't get real value out of it. I spent most of the time on the intercity trains and the regional trains with half decent First accommodation as I felt that venturing way into the likes of the Highlands or West Wales wasn't making good use of it. In the end I submitted comprehensive reviews of my experiences to parties who requested them. I've now moved onto the airlines and buying First Class fares for a fraction of the price of economy tickets.
 
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35B

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Technically, shouldn't that count as a taxable benefit?

The employers I've had specifically state that any Season Ticket purchased for work travel must not be used for any additional personal travel.
Not in any expenses policy I’ve claimed under, but a grey area where HMRC interest might be uncomfortable.
 

35B

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I've never had that stated either, though in reality if you're doing a temporary-workplace "commute" you are very unlikely to want to anyway!
As someone whose skirted the 24 month rule a few times, I can think of some scenarios.
 

Bletchleyite

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As someone whose skirted the 24 month rule a few times, I can think of some scenarios.
I've pretty much universally found, whoever was paying, that if I was doing a given journey 5 days a week I *definitely don't* want to be doing it on the other two.

I seem to recall the only such use I made of such a season ticket was to get through the barriers at MKC to use the bog! :)
 

35B

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I've pretty much universally found, whoever was paying, that if I was doing a given journey 5 days a week I *definitely don't* want to be doing it on the other two.

I seem to recall the only such use I made of such a season ticket was to get through the barriers at MKC to use the bog! :)
London is somewhere I sometimes wish to visit at weekends despite commuting there.
 

Ianno87

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I've pretty much universally found, whoever was paying, that if I was doing a given journey 5 days a week I *definitely don't* want to be doing it on the other two.

I seem to recall the only such use I made of such a season ticket was to get through the barriers at MKC to use the bog! :)
London is somewhere I sometimes wish to visit at weekends despite commuting there.
Plus some very long distance season tickets have so many permitted routes they are de-facto Rover tickets to quite a few alternative destinations.

E.g. my old Cambridge-London season was pretty much a "West Anglia Great Northern Rover"
 

Bletchleyite

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Plus some very long distance season tickets have so many permitted routes they are de-facto Rover tickets to quite a few alternative destinations.

E.g. my old Cambridge-London season was pretty much a "West Anglia Great Northern Rover"
Fair point - I used to have an Aughton Park (Merseyrail) to Manchester season a lot of years ago, and that was near enough a First North Western rover due to the large number of Permitted Routes (and even larger number you'd likely get away with due to guards not knowing where Aughton Park was).
 

freddie1729

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The odd thing with ALRs is that considering the only people likely to use them would generally be of the more informed type I would have thought most would have figured out a way to acquire interrail or britrail products that are less than half the price, have no restrictions and are available as much more useful flexi tickets.
Is this actually possible? You have to have not lived in the UK for 6 months, so that's quite a commitment!
 

Bletchleyite

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Is this actually possible? You have to have not lived in the UK for 6 months, so that's quite a commitment!
Quite a lot of people have obtained EU passports they are entitled to in order to avoid Brexit related restrictions - I believe due to the criteria Irish and Italian ones are common. If you have a non-UK passport, even if the above is technically true, not a single member of staff is going to question you when you show it alongside the ticket.
 

jfollows

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Quite a lot of people have obtained EU passports they are entitled to in order to avoid Brexit related restrictions - I believe due to the criteria Irish and Italian ones are common. If you have a non-UK passport, even if the above is technically true, not a single member of staff is going to question you when you show it alongside the ticket.
Although you're right, I'm sure, it's proof of foreign residency which is technically required for a Britrail pass, this is something which has been debated on this forum a number of times before I recall. When I had a Britrail pass I was a US resident and therefore carried proof of this with me (along with my UK passport!), but was never asked for it. I'm sure you're right in that a non-UK passport would stand as a token of non-UK residency in the eyes of any ticket examiner, even though it isn't!

EDIT - but I see nothing about 6 months in https://www.britrail.net/terms-and-conditions:
Purchase Restrictions: Pass holders must be non-UK residents. BritRail and its representatives may ask at any time for proof of foreign residency and reserve the right to confiscate the ticket or pass in such circumstances. The BritRail ticket is non-transferable and must only be used by the person or persons specified on the ticket.
 

RJ

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Is this actually possible? You have to have not lived in the UK for 6 months, so that's quite a commitment!
Lots of things like this are possible within the confines of the law if you're minded to research it.

Such things don't tend to be published with step by step instructions for all and sundry to see.
 

philthetube

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Technically, shouldn't that count as a taxable benefit?

The employers I've had specifically state that any Season Ticket purchased for work travel must not be used for any additional personal travel.
Not in any expenses policy I’ve claimed under, but a grey area where HMRC interest might be uncomfortable.
The only taxable part would be any additional cost to the employer, if there is no additional cost then no tax, staff travel passes are not taxed because it is considered that the cost is so low that it is not worth bothering with.
 

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