Are MML fares too high for the quality of service on offer?

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spotify95

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Moderator note: Split from https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/emr-class-360s.205226/page-32#post-4994676

They're 20 year old Class 360s cascaded from another operator, which will have worse seating than both the HST and the Meridian until they are refurbished by EMR. Added to the fact the Intercity services won't stop anywhere south of Kettering, and you have to wonder what the advantages of rail travel are on the MML (particularly for users of Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton, and especially if your destination is north of Kettering), compared to using the car...

This is especially the case if train fares are the same price as they are now, with a peak rate of over £100 return from Wellingborough to St Pancras. It would almost be beneficial to take the car (or the 360) to Kettering, and travel via EMR Intercity to St Pancras - especially since Wellingborough loses its direct service to St Pancras (and therefore an increase in journey times), and the 3+2 seating of a 360 is worse than the IC70 seats that have been withdrawn/fed to various crushers...
 
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Starmill

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They're not "new" Class 360s, they're 20 year old Class 360s cascaded from another operator, which will have worse seating than both the HST and the Meridian until they are refurbished by EMR. Added to the fact the Intercity services won't stop anywhere south of Kettering, and you have to wonder what the advantages of rail travel are on the MML (particularly for users of Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton, and especially if your destination is north of Kettering), compared to using the car...
This is especially the case if train fares are the same price as they are now, with a peak rate of over £100 return from Wellingborough to St Pancras. It would almost be beneficial to take the car (or the 360) to Kettering, and travel via EMR Intercity to St Pancras - especially since Wellingborough loses its direct service to St Pancras (and therefore an increase in journey times), and the 3+2 seating of a 360 is worse than the IC70 seats that have been withdrawn/fed to various crushers...
On weekdays, even an Off Peak ticket from Wellingborough to London is £72.50, well over double the price from the nearby Northampton, which is £34! As if to add insult you can go back to Northampton on any train you like the same day, while unlucky Wellingborough passengers aren't allowed to leave London between 1534 and 1847.
 

Ianno87

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On weekdays, even an Off Peak ticket from Wellingborough to London is £72.50, well over double the price from the nearby Northampton, which is £34! As if to add insult you can go back to Northampton on any train you like the same day, while unlucky Wellingborough passengers aren't allowed to leave London between 1534 and 1847.

Which can be reduced quite considerably (without evening peak restrictions) by splitting at Bedford.
 

Starmill

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Which can be reduced quite considerably (without evening peak restrictions) by splitting at Bedford.
Or, rather more likely "How much is a ticket from London to Wellingborough?" "£72.50" "Wow there's no way I'm using the train then"
 

Ianno87

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Or, rather more likely "How much is a ticket from London to Wellingborough?" "£72.50" "Wow there's no way I'm using the train then"

Hopefully the capacity provided by the 360s will ease EMR away from charging such an absurd price.
 

Starmill

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Hopefully the capacity provided by the 360s will ease EMR away from charging such an absurd price.
I can only agree. The fares at the weekend would be suitable Off Peak or Super Off Peak fares in the midweek. Or an average of the two.
 

Merle Haggard

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I can only agree. The fares at the weekend would be suitable Off Peak or Super Off Peak fares in the midweek. Or an average of the two.

This discussion should perhaps be in the 'Services' thread.

The inference is that the very high fares are to damp down demand due to limited capacity and cheap fares will be available when the 360s are introduced.
If the new fare is, say £11.00 (the comparative fare from Northampton) there would need to be 6 1/2 times as many passengers for the revenue to just remain the same, let alone increase it. Is an overnight 550% increase in travel credible?.
 

Starmill

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This discussion should perhaps be in the 'Services' thread.

The inference is that the very high fares are to damp down demand due to limited capacity and cheap fares will be available when the 360s are introduced.
If the new fare is, say £11.00 (the comparative fare from Northampton) there would need to be 6 1/2 times as many passengers for the revenue to just remain the same, let alone increase it. Is an overnight 550% increase in travel credible?.
I'm afraid you're comparing quota-controlled 'advance' ticket prices, where I was drawing a comparison based on 'off peak' ticket prices with at least somewhat comparable time restrictions. There is also an Off Peak Day Travelcard fare from Wellingborough, although I wasn't offered it by the NRE app, and it wouldn't be available in the other direction.
 

BluePenguin

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Or, rather more likely "How much is a ticket from London to Wellingborough?" "£72.50" "Wow there's no way I'm using the train then"
Or simply more often say "Ok thank you, will come back later"...then seize the opportunity to board the train without a ticket at a time when the barriers have been left open. The amount of passengers I have spotted meerkating whilst travelling on EMR is higher than any other TOC with the exception of perhaps CrossCountry. If the fares were cheaper, then more people would be able to pay which would lead to an increase in revenue overall surely.
 

paul1609

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On weekdays, even an Off Peak ticket from Wellingborough to London is £72.50, well over double the price from the nearby Northampton, which is £34! As if to add insult you can go back to Northampton on any train you like the same day, while unlucky Wellingborough passengers aren't allowed to leave London between 1534 and 1847.
In truth the Outraged of Wellingborough Fare of £72.50 is only appropriate to arrivals in London from 10.01 to 11.30, after that it falls to £49 or £27 at weekends.
perhaps with the new electrified service simplify that to one off peak fare of £50.
 

WesternLancer

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Moderator note: Split from https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/emr-class-360s.205226/page-32#post-4994676

They're 20 year old Class 360s cascaded from another operator, which will have worse seating than both the HST and the Meridian until they are refurbished by EMR. Added to the fact the Intercity services won't stop anywhere south of Kettering, and you have to wonder what the advantages of rail travel are on the MML (particularly for users of Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton, and especially if your destination is north of Kettering), compared to using the car...

This is especially the case if train fares are the same price as they are now, with a peak rate of over £100 return from Wellingborough to St Pancras. It would almost be beneficial to take the car (or the 360) to Kettering, and travel via EMR Intercity to St Pancras - especially since Wellingborough loses its direct service to St Pancras (and therefore an increase in journey times), and the 3+2 seating of a 360 is worse than the IC70 seats that have been withdrawn/fed to various crushers...
And it's also an issue from other places. Now got a very tatty 222 fleet internally, and by my reckoning the Advance 1st quotas have been reduced / prices pushed up leading to lighter loadings in 1st class (even despite covid as this was an issue when lock down was part lifted in 2020).

No surprise LNWR/WMR have attempted to poach passengers from Derby with a London fare routed via Tamworth, IIRC
 

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In truth the Outraged of Wellingborough Fare of £72.50 is only appropriate to arrivals in London from 10.01 to 11.30,
Indeed. Exactly when the ticket from Northampton would be valid, in other words.

perhaps with the new electrified service simplify that to one off peak fare of £50.
The reason for the low weekend fare is to stop people splitting at Bedford, as the Bedford to London return fare is £16.10 at weekends.

No surprise LNWR/WMR have attempted to poach passengers from Derby with a London fare routed via Tamworth, IIRC
Indeed. A Derby to London Off Peak Return is £51 with an arrival in London at 1030 and a two hour journey time including one change. In the current timetable, the train from Wellingborough gets you in 20 minutes later and costs £72.50.

It's lucky for EMR that there's no 'Northampton Parkway' station by the M1.
 
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SargeNpton

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Indeed. Exactly when the ticket from Northampton would be valid, in other words.


The reason for the low weekend fare is to stop people splitting at Bedford, as the Bedford to London return fare is £16.10 at weekends.


Indeed. A Derby to London Off Peak Return is £51 with an arrival in London at 1030 and a two hour journey time including one change. In the current timetable, the train from Wellingborough gets you in 20 minutes later and costs £72.50.

It's lucky for EMR that there's no 'Northampton Parkway' station by the M1.
I doubt that may people would drive from Wellingborough to such a station. The A45 is often at at stand on weekdays between the two towns.
 

richardderby

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Indeed. A Derby to London Off Peak Return is £51 with an arrival in London at 1030 and a two hour journey time including one change. In the current timetable, the train from Wellingborough gets you in 20 minutes later and costs £72.50.
there is also a super off peak return priced at just £40 Derby London Euston return , arriving London after 12.59. indeed, northbound journey time can be 1 hour 51 minutes with a good connection at Tamworth.
 
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dh2389

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When I went to derby for a football match instead of going from bedford I went from from mkc and changed at tamworth for a cross country service to derby way cheaper
 

Class 170101

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Not likely to reduce fares given the Government wants its pound of flesh from the railways
 

Ianno87

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Not likely to reduce fares given the Government wants its pound of flesh from the railways

Unless it can be demonstrated in certain instances that reducing fares drives demand upwards enough that total revenue increases.
 

Llandudno

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Unless it can be demonstrated in certain instances that reducing fares drives demand upwards enough that total revenue increases.
Perhaps if MML fares were lower and capacity exists then there may be fewer cars on the M1, resulting in the end of the death trap ‘Smart Motorway’ concept.
 
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WesternLancer

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Unless it can be demonstrated in certain instances that reducing fares drives demand upwards enough that total revenue increases.
This would require the Treasury (who are controlling fares really) to think like entrepreneurs - which they seemingly never will - even tho they think that is good medicine for everyone else....
 

alistairlees

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This would require the Treasury (who are controlling fares really) to think like entrepreneurs - which they seemingly never will - even tho they think that is good medicine for everyone else....
Unfortunately this is the problem
 

Merle Haggard

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I'm afraid you're comparing quota-controlled 'advance' ticket prices, where I was drawing a comparison based on 'off peak' ticket prices with at least somewhat comparable time restrictions. There is also an Off Peak Day Travelcard fare from Wellingborough, although I wasn't offered it by the NRE app, and it wouldn't be available in the other direction.

Well, I did try to make a fair and unbiased comparison.

I arrived at the fares I quoted by asking NRES for the services and fares from Northampton and Wellingborough to London, and in each case chose date of travel as 'Tomorrow' and departure time as '10.30', trying to put myself in the place of someone visiting London for a purpose other than full time work. I think that's reasonable, and it's easy to check my results. Obviously the present situation means that quotas are unlikely to be exhausted but I don't recollect it being much different pre-Covid.

Since National Express Midland Main Line days there's been a curious attitude to Northamptonshire fare levels. In the early days of MML I saw leaflets that offered a) very very cheap fares from Sheffield/Chesterfield to London and b) very cheap fares from Nottingham and Derby to London. From memory, the prices in a) were about £2 higher than b), and the fares in b) a similar amount higher than those from Wellingborough and Kettering. Of course, no cheap fares were advertised from the last two places. Perhaps those at Derby HQ think us 'Southerners' are all very wealthy...
 

SargeNpton

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Well, I did try to make a fair and unbiased comparison.

I arrived at the fares I quoted by asking NRES for the services and fares from Northampton and Wellingborough to London, and in each case chose date of travel as 'Tomorrow' and departure time as '10.30', trying to put myself in the place of someone visiting London for a purpose other than full time work. I think that's reasonable, and it's easy to check my results. Obviously the present situation means that quotas are unlikely to be exhausted but I don't recollect it being much different pre-Covid.

Since National Express Midland Main Line days there's been a curious attitude to Northamptonshire fare levels. In the early days of MML I saw leaflets that offered a) very very cheap fares from Sheffield/Chesterfield to London and b) very cheap fares from Nottingham and Derby to London. From memory, the prices in a) were about £2 higher than b), and the fares in b) a similar amount higher than those from Wellingborough and Kettering. Of course, no cheap fares were advertised from the last two places. Perhaps those at Derby HQ think us 'Southerners' are all very wealthy...

And there you come across an anomaly that has existed for 50 years or more. Northampton is within the old "London & South East" fares area (later enshrined as Network SouthEast). On the Midland Line that area only extended as far north as Bedford.

So, all these years later, Northampton-London is still being priced on on it being within the London commuter zone whereas Wellingborough-London is being priced using InterCity fares.
 

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And there you come across an anomaly that has existed for 50 years or more. Northampton is within the old "London & South East" fares area (later enshrined as Network SouthEast). On the Midland Line that area only extended as far north as Bedford.

So, all these years later, Northampton-London is still being priced on on it being within the London commuter zone whereas Wellingborough-London is being priced using InterCity fares.
Indeed. Although it is worth nothing that Northampton, Milton Keynes Central, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton, Luton Airport, and Luton Airport Parkway all have Advance tickets to London nowadays, which may not have been the case at Intercity and certainly wasn't at NSE.
 

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I did find some of their 1st class AP tickets between Yorkshire and London good value - particularly for their high quality HST interior.

It remains to be seen whether this continues to be the case for the replacement stock.
 

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I did find some of their 1st class AP tickets between Yorkshire and London good value - particularly for their high quality HST interior.

It remains to be seen whether this continues to be the case for the replacement stock.
The tickets may still be offered , but will the level of ‘extra comfort’ on the new trains warrant the supplement?
 

yorksrob

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The tickets may still be offered , but will the level of ‘extra comfort’ on the new trains warrant the supplement?

Now there is the question !

Perhaps it will depend on how crowded standard becomes.
 

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Whatever happened to the 'Red Dot Days' they used to offer, perhaps an idea to bring back once things are up and running again to tempt people back
 

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Since National Express Midland Main Line days there's been a curious attitude to Northamptonshire fare levels. In the early days of MML I saw leaflets that offered a) very very cheap fares from Sheffield/Chesterfield to London and b) very cheap fares from Nottingham and Derby to London. From memory, the prices in a) were about £2 higher than b), and the fares in b) a similar amount higher than those from Wellingborough and Kettering. Of course, no cheap fares were advertised from the last two places. Perhaps those at Derby HQ think us 'Southerners' are all very wealthy...

This is the problem - every advanced seat sold to someone from (e.g.) Wellingborough is a seat that could be sold to someone from (e.g.) Sheffield/ Nottingham, given that the train is running from further north anyway - there's not going to be many people doing a Sheffield/ Nottingham - Wellingborough journey.

So, from a revenue perspective, there's less incentive to offer cheap fares to shorter distance passengers if you can get longer distance passengers to pay more for those seats

(I'm not saying that MML fares are "too LOW" in some respects, just that there's an opportunity cost to these things, and short distance passengers are competing for seats that longer distance passengers are potentially willing to pay more for)

And there you come across an anomaly that has existed for 50 years or more. Northampton is within the old "London & South East" fares area (later enshrined as Network SouthEast). On the Midland Line that area only extended as far north as Bedford.

So, all these years later, Northampton-London is still being priced on on it being within the London commuter zone whereas Wellingborough-London is being priced using InterCity fares.

This is the problem - the messy combination of boundaries from BR days, partly because of the messy combination of routes built by Victorian speculators and the messy combination of twentieth century withdrawals - but we are where we are, and any attempt at matching the same "price per mile" is going to have some significant winners/ losers.

And the MML doesn't have capacity to accommodate all of the Northamptonshire passengers who'd use the line more if fares were significantly cheaper - nor do we have space on the line to introduce a "NSE" style service north of Bedford - so I don't know what the options are - I think that the twelve coach EMUs to Corby are probably the best we can hope for - which a least gives scope to lower fares to those stations in the future (just bad news for Market Harborough passengers, who won't get this benefit)
 

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The MML would have more capacity if they ran longer trains. The 360s will help for Corby and stations south but for the north capacity seems to be decreasing and fares going up.

I live in Nottingham and we had one five coach 222 and a eight coach HST each hour with the HSTs offering some cheap advance tickets due to the extra capacity. However recently the HSTs have turned into five coach 222s and 180s. At the moment with covid it's not a problem but in the future things could get crowded and expensive.

The new bi modals appear to all be five coaches so although some will probably run in multiple, I cannot see how most Nottingham services will not be five coaches for years to come and therefore have limited cheap tickets available.

I must admit that when EMR got the franchise I was expecting the new stock to provide the existing Nottingham HSTs service with a similar capacity and the 222 semi fast to be strengthened to reduce overcrowding. Instead ws seem to have ended up with an overall reduction. I fear that more expensive and unpleasant journeys are to come.

Why did they not order nine coach bi modals like GWR and LNER. Would have catered for existing numbers and allowed for growth.
 
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