Arriva Trains Wales adds evening peak restrictions to ALL off-peak day return tickets

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LNW-GW Joint

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Just noticed from brfares that the Off Peak Day Return between Chester and Shrewsbury has gained new restrictions.
Previously it was restriction B5 - valid outward after 0830 and no return restrictions.
Now it is restriction AW, which is valid outward 0930-1559 and after 1830, with return restricted to outside 1600-1829.
I don't know when this change happened, or whether it is part of a more general ATW fares off-peak fares change, but it is unwelcome.
Rush hour in Shrewsbury is hardly a tumultuous affair like it is in Birmingham.
The next cheapest fare is the Anytime Day Return which is 20% more expensive.
ATW's Chester-Birmingham CDR has also gained the same restrictions, with the fare going up by 50% if you fall foul of the new restrictions.
ATW seems to have joined other TOCs in raising fares by stealth.
 
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ATW appears to have changed the restriction code for all CDR fares it prices. This has resulted in substantial fare increases for many journeys.

Notice how ATW attempts to get through these changes in May, when they hope nobody will be looking.

Also notice how these changes from ATW are helping to make rail fares SIMPLE:

In January 2015, ATW had two Chester to Birmingham return fares:

£42 Off-Peak Return: No outward time restrictions, no return time restrictions

£21 Off-Peak Day Return: Outward journey after 08:45, no return time restrictions

In May 2015, ATW introduced a third Chester to Birmingham return fare:

£42 Off-Peak Return: No outward time restrictions, no return time restrictions

£33 Super Off-Peak Return: Outward journey after 09:00, no return time restrictions

£21 Off-Peak Day Return: Outward journey after 08:45, no return time restrictions

And in May 2016 (after the January 2016 fare increases), the time restrictions are:

£42 Off-Peak Return: No outward time restrictions, no return time restrictions

£33 Super Off-Peak Return: Outward journey after 09:00, no return time restrictions

£22 Off Peak Day Return: Outward journey between 09:30 and 16:00 or after 18:30, return journey before 16:00 or after 18:30

The off-peak day return (CDR) is now more restrictive than the super off-peak return (SSR), even though the super off-peak return is supposed to have "more restrictions".

These changes are laughable. And the DfT/ATOC wonder why UK rail fares are held in such contempt!
 
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Paul Kelly

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This was mentioned a while ago when the NFM24 Avantix Traveller download first became available:
http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?p=2546042/#post2545515
I was surprised more people didn't pick up on at the time. Interestingly from the example in the OP, it's not just new afternoon peak restrictions but substantial new morning restrictions being added in some cases too. Surely this must be all coming for the whole Northern network too before long, with Arriva in charge there?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Not so long ago, Chester-Birmingham CDR was the £21-equivalent fare, and routed Any Permitted so valid via Stafford or Shrewsbury.
Then LM introduced more expensive (SVR) fares via Stafford (despite not running any through services) and the cheaper CDR became only valid on the longer/slower route via Shrewsbury.
LM seemed to be the villain here, but now ATW has followed them with evening restrictions on the CDR.
I suspect this off-peak policy is as much down to the DfT regulator as the TOCs.
Either way, it's price increases by the back door.

The Chester-Manchester fares don't seem to have the same restrictions, although the fare structure on that route is different (no ATW CDR).
There are no evening restrictions (yet).
 

yorkie

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I suspect this off-peak policy is as much down to the DfT regulator as the TOCs.
Regulated fares are not affected, but yes the DfT will be more than happy with this outcome.

Imagine this:
"Sorry Sir, your Chester to Holyhead Off Peak Day return is not valid on this train, as it's only valid at off peak times. I will have to excess you to the Off Peak Return, which is valid at off peak times, that will be £4.90 please". :roll:
I'd love to see someone refuse to pay this on the basis that the "definitive source" of UK rail information (NRE) claims:
The new names describe when you can buy or use a ticket
Where there is more than one Off-Peak fare for a journey, the cheaper fare with more restrictions will be called Super Off-Peak.
(However I would advise against anyone doing this unless they have consulted a solicitor and they are happy for the matter to go to court)
 

D6975

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Surely this must be all coming for the whole Northern network too before long, with Arriva in charge there?

Haven't 16:30 - 18:00 restrictions been in place for a while now on Northern?
I know that the Manchester and Leeds centred day ranger tickets have the restriction.
 

sonic2009

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There are some fares that are still out there from Chester to Destinations near Birmingham that do not carry the evening restrictions, and permit travel via Shrewsbury or Stafford to Birmingham. :)
 

bb21

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Learning the same tricks from their sister company CrossCountry I see.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I can't find any ATW-priced CDRs that don't carry the restriction.

Certainly applies to the Shrewsbury-Bristol long-distance CDR, which was very useful for split ticketing on longer journeys.
Still valid via Cheltenham or Hereford, fortunately.
Cheaper than XC's Birmingham-Bristol off-peak fare (SVR).
 

kieron

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ATW appears to have changed the restriction code for all CDR fares it prices. This has resulted in substantial fare increases for many journeys.
They've even done it for routes such as Chester-Liverpool (for the bargain price of £11.30, against £7.20 for the anytime Merseyrail version).
Notice how ATW attempts to get through these changes in May, when they hope nobody will be looking.
It would be a very brave TOC which increased fares significantly in January.
I suspect this off-peak policy is as much down to the DfT regulator as the TOCs.
Either way, it's price increases by the back door.
I doubt the DfT are responsible for this (although I'm less certain about the Treasury). I don't know if this came up at all in the recent election campaign.
Is that nonsense still going on?

That should become an Anytime Return.
But who would pay for the fares lost by replacing those tickets with less restrictive ones?
 

krus_aragon

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A significant problem with this change to restrictions is that it highlights the lack of distinction between anytime day return (SDR) and off-peak day return (CDR) tickets in Wales. Most flows in Wales have one ticket or the other, but not both. This wasn't an issue when there were no (significant) restrictions on the CDR. Now that there are, there is significant inconsistency between different flows. Here are some examples from North Wales:

Return tickets to Chester from:
Holyhead: £30.80 SDR
Bangor: £22.90 CDR, restrictions
Llandudno: £19.40 CDR, restrictions
Rhyl: £16.30 SDR
Flint: £7.60 SDR
Wrexham: £5.80 SDR

(But if travelling from Llandudno to Wrexham, it's an SDR at £20.70, with no restrictions!)

Return tickets to Blaenau Ffestiniog from:
Holyhead: £22.70 CDR, restrictions
Bangor: £15.90 SDR
Llandudno: £8.90 SDR
Rhyl: £16.60 ADR
Flint: £23.70 Off-peak return, no day tickets available. No outward BoJ.
Chester: £24.70 CDR, restrictions
Wrexham: £26.70 SDR

I can't see any logic behind that distribution of restrictions. I suppose Welsh fares have suddenly become more interesting, from a Fares Workshop point of view. :(
 
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IanXC

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Haven't 16:30 - 18:00 restrictions been in place for a while now on Northern?
I know that the Manchester and Leeds centred day ranger tickets have the restriction.

With only a few exceptions, these restrictions have only been added to flows entirely within PTE areas.
 

krus_aragon

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It's not a ATW priced one that's why ;)

Come again? ALR was pointing out that of the CDRs priced by ATW that they've checked, each one now carries the 'AW' restrictions.



Wondering about potential motivations for this change in restrictions, I thought it might have been done with Valley Lines overcrowding in mind. However all the flows I've checked in the Valleys have the unrestricted Anytime Day Return, not the Cheap Day Return.

I've found that fares on the Cardiff-Swansea stretch of the South Wales Main Line have both ADR and CDR tickets available, at a few pounds difference in price. It still doesn't explain the policy throughout the rest of Wales, though.
 
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D6975

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With only a few exceptions, these restrictions have only been added to flows entirely within PTE areas.

Ahh thanks for that, my recent Northern purchases have all been within PTE areas. And rovers of course.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Apparently it's "good news" for peak travellers because there will be more seats.
It's also dressed up as a fare decrease by 20% off peak (what they mean is peak is 20% dearer, not that off-peak fares have been reduced by 20%!).
http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/090516SeatnSave/
It is launching a new promotional campaign to highlight the savings of up 20% on the price of a ticket that can be achieved using an off-peak ticket compared to the same journey during the peak
Apparently it does not apply to the Valleys network, as the fares are all Anytime Day Returns (SDRs) (as is Chester-Manchester/Crewe).

Before blaming ATW completely, DfT have signalled for several years that they want more peak restrictions around major centres
But ATW operates many non-major flows which are caught in the same vice - how can a Chester-Llandudno journey in an almost empty train against the flow be called "Peak"?
WG comes into this too, of course, but I don't know how fares are regulated on W&B with half of the fares being in England and half in Wales.
 
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sonic2009

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Apologies should of explained myself, the ticket I have found allows travel on ATW services from Chester - Birmingham at less than the price of a Chester - Birmingham ticket.

One quick question, have they consulted with other TOCs on this change? ATW set the fare between Ashchurch and Cheltenham Spa but don't run the services between those stations! Very interesting indeed.
 

All Line Rover

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Apparently it's "good news" for peak travellers because there will be more seats...

Before blaming ATW completely, DfT have signalled for several years that they want more peak restrictions around major centres

There are two arguments that could be made against the 'AW' restriction, but which do not stand up to scrutiny over the long term.

The first argument is that not all CDRs are priced by ATW. For example, Crewe to Manchester is priced by Northern and is unrestricted. Shrewsbury to Birmingham is priced by London Midland and, although restricted, is not as restrictive as ATW's 'AW' restriction. However, the DfT might want a unified time restriction on all CDR tickets, which would not be surprising bearing in mind that ATW's 'AW' restriction is identical to Northern's existing 'ND' restriction.

The second argument is that CDRs are not available on all flows. For example, Chester to Manchester only has an SVR (Off-Peak Return) and an SDR (Anytime Day Return). However, in most of these cases, the SVR is the regulated fare, meaning ATW would be able to increase the price of the SDR and introduce an 'AW' time-restricted CDR at the old SDR price.​


My main point of contention is not that evening peak restrictions on CDR tickets are necessarily a bad thing (if SDRs are typically only around 25% more expensive than CDRs, and CDRs are typically only available for medium distance journeys on the ATW network, there would not be much scope for split-ticketing, so there would not be many 'unfair' fares), but that the DfT are utter twats when it comes to ticketing (as well as a variety of other responsibilities), and don't try to create a coherent fares structure.

What is needed (if the DfT wishes to maximise revenue) is:

Anytime Return tickets introduced for all journeys for which an Off-Peak Return is available, at a price above the Off-Peak Return.

All Off-Peak Returns (which are the regulated fare and have an '8A' restriction on the ATW network) changed to a 2V restriction (all travel after 09:30* - breaks of journey are permitted).

All Off-Peak Day Returns continue to use the 'AW' restriction.

*My understanding is that this is the most restrictive time restriction that can be applied to non-London regulated fares.​


Such a fares structure would be transparent and easy to understand, and would only depend on other train operators following suit in order to achieve coherence.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Apologies should of explained myself, the ticket I have found allows travel on ATW services from Chester - Birmingham at less than the price of a Chester - Birmingham ticket.

There are probably hundreds of such tickets, but they are not tickets which would we disclose publicly because any changes would disadvantage existing users of these tickets with other train operators.
 
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Gareth Marston

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As a "yield management" tool on ATW this would only make sense if it was no CDR's on arrival into Cardiff, Birmingham & Manchester by 0930.

Otherwise its purpose is clear unfortunately. How much is it ATW themselves or Daft driving it we don't know.

ATW abolished all Cambrian CDR's 10 years ago and we got the Cambrian Local Railcard as compensation which you can use all day every day. How long before this is attacked?

On most of ATW's network the peak/crowding can often be when CDR's are available anyway Saturday afternoons etc
 

Phil from Mon

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I can't see any logic behind that distribution of restrictions. I suppose Welsh fares have suddenly become more interesting, from a Fares Workshop point of view. :(

Trying to book a day return for tomorrow Bangor to Chester is a nightmare. There is a multitude of different fares, some valid on VT only, others seem to be ATW only and some look like either operator out but only one of them back. How on earth is Jo public supposed to make sense of it, and why on earth does a Saturday have peak time restrictions anyway?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Trying to book a day return for tomorrow Bangor to Chester is a nightmare. There is a multitude of different fares, some valid on VT only, others seem to be ATW only and some look like either operator out but only one of them back. How on earth is Jo public supposed to make sense of it, and why on earth does a Saturday have peak time restrictions anyway?

Off Peak Day Return (Any Permitted) is £22.90, no restrictions on Sat, use on AW or VT.
Off Peak Day Return (VT Only) is £18.30, but you only have a few trains each way, notably just the 1612 and 1816 back on Sat.
There are no "AW only" tickets, as they set the Any Permitted interavailable fare.
 

Phil from Mon

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Off Peak Day Return (Any Permitted) is £22.90, no restrictions on Sat, use on AW or VT.
Off Peak Day Return (VT Only) is £18.30, but you only have a few trains each way, notably just the 1612 and 1816 back on Sat.
There are no "AW only" tickets, as they set the Any Permitted interavailable fare.

In that case National Rail enquiries (the iPad app) was giving incorrect information yesterday. I'll check later and try to get a few screen shots but it was clear there are restrictions. I'll also see if the website is the same.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Just checked the NR app again. £22.90 off peak fare, not valid on 1612, 1816 or 1912 back (all VT trains)
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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In that case National Rail enquiries (the iPad app) was giving incorrect information yesterday. I'll check later and try to get a few screen shots but it was clear there are restrictions. I'll also see if the website is the same.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Just checked the NR app again. £22.90 off peak fare, not valid on 1612, 1816 or 1912 back (all VT trains)

If you check the VT site, click on the "click here for cheaper fares", then click on each of the separate fares:
The £22.90 Any Permitted will show you all trains (AW and VT).
The £18.30 VT Only just shows VT trains (including the 1918 which I forgot).

It's all very messy I agree.
The last thing they seem to want to show you is the cheapest, obvious fare.

I used http://www.brfares.com/#home for raw information.
All the TOC sites and NRE try to sell you 2x single tickets for a return journey, which is often much more than the off-peak return.
 

Muzer

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Don't rely on the restriction code text from brfares --- it's usually a good indication but sometimes out of date. Always go to http://nres.co.uk/XX where XX is the two character restriction code for the most up-to-date info.
 
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