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

JonathanH

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Why did they not order nine coach bi modals like GWR and LNER. Would have catered for existing numbers and allowed for growth.
A uniform fleet of five car units is more flexible - there are plenty of services where five cars will be sufficient and a fleet of nine cars would clearly have been more expensive.

Platform capacity at St Pancras was also a consideration.

Clearly a more expensive operation would lead to even higher fares.
 
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Starmill

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nor do we have space on the line to introduce a "NSE" style service north of Bedford
I would say that this is essentially exactly what we've got. Or rather, are about to have.
 

LowLevel

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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.

The HSTs to Nottingham were nothing to do with a perceived capacity requirement from Nottingham, most of the time they ran half empty bar Saturday mornings and the weekday peak. They went there to allow the 222 7 car sets to run the fast Sheffields to speed up that service. It was simply the service group where their slower acceleration would have least impact.

Cheap Megatrain/bus tickets and bargain advances are unlikely to be seen as much of a loss by the train operator. A 5 car 810 will still have more seats than a 5 car 222.

9 car trains are inflexible and amongst other things would cause problems fitting in the maintenance sheds at Derby.
 

yorksrob

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The HSTs to Nottingham were nothing to do with a perceived capacity requirement from Nottingham, most of the time they ran half empty bar Saturday mornings and the weekday peak. They went there to allow the 222 7 car sets to run the fast Sheffields to speed up that service. It was simply the service group where their slower acceleration would have least impact.

Cheap Megatrain/bus tickets and bargain advances are unlikely to be seen as much of a loss by the train operator. A 5 car 810 will still have more seats than a 5 car 222.

9 car trains are inflexible and amongst other things would cause problems fitting in the maintenance sheds at Derby.

But they would have helped to take pressure off of other shorter services.

Whatever the spin, the HST's are a massive loss in terms of capacity and comfort.
 

LowLevel

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But they would have helped to take pressure off of other shorter services.

Whatever the spin, the HST's are a massive loss in terms of capacity and comfort.

They invariably didn't. They were useful in the peaks and on Sundays but it was absolutely typical to stand at Leicester station and watch the 4 or 5 car ex Sheffield semi fast leave full and standing after everyone had wedged on (we quite often didn't have a single seat left especially in first) and then a handful board the HST 5-10 minutes behind on the ex Nottingham fast.

They were used entirely for operational convenience and they weren't much better heading north.

Comfort is subjective - for everyone who liked the old style interior there was another person who hated the fixed armrests and lack of plug sockets in standard while getting covered in muck opening the doors. The LNER sets are better but you now get people wanting the old EMT interior sets back so you can't win :lol:

I've spent most of the last decade working in a front line role in the area of the MML and I can tell you that both 222s and HSTs were marmite - but that more regular passengers asked after the 222s for their more modern facilities on offer.
 

yorksrob

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They invariably didn't. They were useful in the peaks and on Sundays but it was absolutely typical to stand at Leicester station and watch the 4 or 5 car ex Sheffield semi fast leave full and standing after everyone had wedged on (we quite often didn't have a single seat left especially in first) and then a handful board the HST 5-10 minutes behind on the ex Nottingham fast.

They were used entirely for operational convenience and they weren't much better heading north.

Comfort is subjective - for everyone who liked the old style interior there was another person who hated the fixed armrests and lack of plug sockets in standard while getting covered in muck opening the doors. The LNER sets are better but you now get people wanting the old EMT interior sets back so you can't win :lol:

I've spent most of the last decade working in a front line role in the area of the MML and I can tell you that both 222s and HSTs were marmite - but that more regular passengers asked after the 222s for their more modern facilities on offer.

Well, I've been saying all along that the EMT interior was superior for comfort but no one listens :lol: Their only mistake was not wanging some electric sockets in standard.

I've never had the issue of cramming on the earlier train - I always bought advanced purchase, so cost was a far more important factor.
 

mt4958

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I think we can all agree the 222s and HSTs are far more comfortable than the rattle wagons from Northampton. It's the only reason people have been willing to pay the intercity fare prices. As soon as we get the same commuter style trains on the MML there will be no benefit. In the early days MML commuters got free tea and coffee with every journey, how far we have fallen lol.
 

Wallsendmag

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I think we can all agree the 222s and HSTs are far more comfortable than the rattle wagons from Northampton. It's the only reason people have been willing to pay the intercity fare prices. As soon as we get the same commuter style trains on the MML there will be no benefit. In the early days MML commuters got free tea and coffee with every journey, how far we have fallen lol.
Would that have been the 1840s?
 

Gathursty

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I remember about 2 years ago using the TVM at Melton Mowbray for the Parly service via Corby and considering what ticket to buy. I saw a return to London for £99! I was stunned. A Wigan return to London is about that price but Melton Mowbray must be half the distance surely! I ended up buying a much cheaper return to Kettering and had a lengthy wait for anything going to Leicester.
 

Llandudno

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I remember about 2 years ago using the TVM at Melton Mowbray for the Parly service via Corby and considering what ticket to buy. I saw a return to London for £99! I was stunned. A Wigan return to London is about that price but Melton Mowbray must be half the distance surely! I ended up buying a much cheaper return to Kettering and had a lengthy wait for anything going to Leicester.
Probably don’t want any pesky passengers to use a ‘parliamentary’ service, otherwise they might get shamed into operating a proper service along the route!
 

Wolfie

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Well, I've been saying all along that the EMT interior was superior for comfort but no one listens :lol: Their only mistake was not wanging some electric sockets in standard.

I've never had the issue of cramming on the earlier train - I always bought advanced purchase, so cost was a far more important factor.
IC70s were and remain bloody awful. Good riddance.
 

yorksrob

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IC70s were and remain bloody awful. Good riddance.

I really don't mind them to be honest. Yes, the fixed arm rests are a bit of a pain, but at least my backside isn't aching after an hour.

But the armchairs in 1st class are - sorry, were pure heaven.
 

Merle Haggard

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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.







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

Sheffield trains do not stop at Wellingborough in the day time service. Served by trains from Corby and Nottingham and we are told above that the latter are not well loaded.

The line North of Bedford has been converted to quadruple to Kettering and all lines electrified, and Wellingborough rebuilt with 4 platforms. Don't understand why there's a capacity constraint - arguably better than the infrastructure to NSE land-Northampton, for instance.
 

LowLevel

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Sheffield trains do not stop at Wellingborough in the day time service. Served by trains from Corby and Nottingham and we are told above that the latter are not well loaded.

The line North of Bedford has been converted to quadruple to Kettering and all lines electrified, and Wellingborough rebuilt with 4 platforms. Don't understand why there's a capacity constraint - arguably better than the infrastructure to NSE land-Northampton, for instance.

The Nottingham fast HSTs were not well loaded. The stoppers formed of 4/5 car 222 were very busy generally. Often totally wedged by Wellingborough.
 

Ianno87

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The Nottingham fast HSTs were not well loaded. The stoppers formed of 4/5 car 222 were very busy generally. Often totally wedged by Wellingborough.

I guessing the Nottingham HSTs are more around the politics of giving Nottingham a fast service, rather than being the most rational solution in evening out loadings.
 

Haywain

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I remember about 2 years ago using the TVM at Melton Mowbray for the Parly service via Corby and considering what ticket to buy. I saw a return to London for £99! I was stunned. A Wigan return to London is about that price but Melton Mowbray must be half the distance surely! I ended up buying a much cheaper return to Kettering and had a lengthy wait for anything going to Leicester.
Presumably because said train was not at Super Off Peak times. But the journey is priced via Leicester which is most of the reason for it being rather high. I doubt anyone in MML ever thought a via Corby fare was worth the effort.
 

Ianno87

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Presumably because said train was not at Super Off Peak times. But the journey is priced via Leicester which is most of the reason for it being rather high. I doubt anyone in MML ever thought a via Corby fare was worth the effort.

The problem with a "via Corby" fare would be people buying them from the TVM simply because it's the cheapest....but not realising its only valid on 2 trains per day!
 

Kite159

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Presumably because said train was not at Super Off Peak times. But the journey is priced via Leicester which is most of the reason for it being rather high. I doubt anyone in MML ever thought a via Corby fare was worth the effort.

Although there seems to be a off-peak day return available via Peterborough priced by LNER

(I was half expecting the "any permitted" Melton Mowbrey - London fare to be priced by XC)
 

bramling

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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)



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)

Whilst I agree with the above, it’s hard to make the case that the MML is properly full when there’s currently plenty of 4, 5 and 7 car services running around. The Corby EMUs will offset this to some extent, but there’s still going to be plenty of short DMUs running up and down.

I guess there’s another issue namely that Wellingborough and Kettering are fairly isolated, lacking attractive alternative rail options. It’s a fair drive east to Huntingdon or St Neots, which then means a quite slow journey to London at most times of day, whilst going west there’s only really Northampton or Rugby, neither of which have a wonderful service either - plus Northampton in particular is a mare to drive to at some times of day. Bedford again means an awkward drive, poor parking, and the prospect of either joining the same train they would have done at the home station, or else a slow Thameslink train. In essence Wellingborough and Kettering don’t have good alternative options.

They invariably didn't. They were useful in the peaks and on Sundays but it was absolutely typical to stand at Leicester station and watch the 4 or 5 car ex Sheffield semi fast leave full and standing after everyone had wedged on (we quite often didn't have a single seat left especially in first) and then a handful board the HST 5-10 minutes behind on the ex Nottingham fast.

They were used entirely for operational convenience and they weren't much better heading north.

Comfort is subjective - for everyone who liked the old style interior there was another person who hated the fixed armrests and lack of plug sockets in standard while getting covered in muck opening the doors. The LNER sets are better but you now get people wanting the old EMT interior sets back so you can't win :lol:

I've spent most of the last decade working in a front line role in the area of the MML and I can tell you that both 222s and HSTs were marmite - but that more regular passengers asked after the 222s for their more modern facilities on offer.

I must buck the trend as to be honest I wouldn’t have much to choose between an HST or 222 - they’re both quite decent IMO.

However, I’d take an 8-car HST over a 5-car 222 simply on capacity.
 
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Haywain

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Although there seems to be a off-peak day return available via Peterborough priced by LNER
I’m aware of that but don’t see it as terribly relevant to a journey going through Corby to St Pancras.
 

Kite159

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I’m aware of that but don’t see it as terribly relevant to a journey going through Corby to St Pancras.

There are probably plenty other examples on the network where a fare from X to Y is priced as going via somewhere else when there is an infrequent shorter route.

How many people actually used that "via Corby" train from Melton Mowbray before Covid, maybe there just isn't any demand for a cheaper Melton Mowbray - London via Corby ticket based on the times of those services
 

WesternLancer

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There are probably plenty other examples on the network where a fare from X to Y is priced as going via somewhere else when there is an infrequent shorter route.

How many people actually used that "via Corby" train from Melton Mowbray before Covid, maybe there just isn't any demand for a cheaper Melton Mowbray - London via Corby ticket based on the times of those services
I've used it from Derby or East Mids P way occasionally - had v cheap Advance Fares even close to travel date- and you had to force the booking engine to show them as of course direct routes were faster. A few were on board and a few got on at Melton etc. I would expect the Advance tickets for that train at the time I travelled to be also cheap from there too. Not tried recently.
 

35B

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Whilst I agree with the above, it’s hard to make the case that the MML is properly full when there’s currently plenty of 4, 5 and 7 car services running around. The Corby EMUs will offset this to some extent, but there’s still going to be plenty of short DMUs running up and down.

I guess there’s another issue namely that Wellingborough and Kettering are fairly isolated, lacking attractive alternative rail options. It’s a fair drive east to Huntingdon or St Neots, which then means a quite slow journey to London at most times of day, whilst going west there’s only really Northampton or Rugby, neither of which have a wonderful service either - plus Northampton in particular is a mare to drive to at some times of day. Bedford again means an awkward drive, poor parking, and the prospect of either joining the same train they would have done at the home station, or else a slow Thameslink train. In essence Wellingborough and Kettering don’t have good alternative options.



I must buck the trend as to be honest I wouldn’t have much to choose between an HST or 222 - they’re both quite decent IMO.

However, I’d take an 8-car HST over a 5-car 222 simply on capacity.
In contrast, a former colleague living in the outskirts of Leicester used to prefer to travel with LM from Rugby because he could get better fares and the 350s weren’t a problem to him when working. It takes all sorts.
 

spotify95

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but that more regular passengers asked after the 222s for their more modern facilities on offer
That certainly wasn't me then as I'd rather have no plugs and fast 4G, rather than plug sockets, interiors that had gone past their sell by date, metallic windows that block 4G (and anything else) and wi-fi that was so bottlenecked that it just doesn't work.

Hopefully the 810s bring an improvement, but given that the 810s are going to be 5 car trains, and the capacity bottleneck is still the stretch between Leicester and Kettering/Wellingborough (and not the part between Kettering/Wellingborough/Bedford and St Pancras), are 12 car 360s really going to help alleviate the (pre-pandemic) capacity issues on the MML? And will Wellingborough/Bedford/Luton passengers get a reduction in fares to stations north of Kettering, to make up for having to split (with up to a 30 minute connection time)?
Personally, for Bedford/Wellingborough to Market Harborough/Leicester customers, there is no real advantage to taking the train over taking the car and driving - especially with the latter giving you more flexibility over timings, more comfort (the Meridians need a refurbishment and driving at least guarantees you a seat!) and better value for money in most instances (especially if more than 1 person is making the journey at once).

Even going south, the MML is a bit of a joke with getting a substantially cheaper journey by splitting at Bedford.
 
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