Birmingham to Kyle of Lochalsh: Off Peak Return no longer valid before 0930

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General Zod

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Was just checking prices for Off Peak Return (SVR) tickets ( on Virgin's website) for tickets between Birmingham New St (BHM) and the far north highlands ; Inverness, Kyle etc and noticed that for weekday travel before 0930 you can no longer purchase SVRs ? Unfortunately, due to the long distances and extended connection times the only possible means of reaching , for example Kyle, is by catching the 0820 or 0920 deps. from BHM and changing several times en route. For travel on either of these two trains you will be charged the "Anytime" fare. Surely Virgin could cut some slack and allow weekday SVRs to be valid on the trains ? One has no option but to catch the early trains and hence pay the Anytime Return fare ( a whopping £324 !!!!! ) which is close to double the SVR's ( £169.80) price . You are left with no alternative but to travel on weekends if you want a cheaper ticket for the journey as traveling after 0930 on weekdays won't get you to your final destination !
 
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General Zod

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Thanks gents, a bit of a misunderstanding on my part. I was under the impression that the fare was set by Virgin. XC's 0930 restriction is seen in action here.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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That's because the fares from BHM to beyond GLC/EDB are set by XC not Virgin, and carry restriction 2V (not before 0930).
You can still get VT SVRs for these trains to GLC/EDB, and then rebook on Scotrail for further north. The VT fare is restriction 2U (not before 0415).
All part of the XC rip-off.
 

Failed Unit

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I can't start ranting about how it wrong that a TOC sets fares on a route when it is unlikely you will use thier trains. I mean who seriously would use XC to get to Birmingham from Scotland other than track bashing! It is not as if they are ever cheaper even with APs. Shame virgin don't have the flow.
 

calc7

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I think we decided a few months ago that the High Wycombe to Kyle of Lochalsh SSR priced by East Coast is valid for any train so long as you avoid CrossCountry, and a couple that start from London Euston (though if you start at BHM on VT then this isn't an issue).

Price is £165.10
 

General Zod

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Virgin ONLY between BHM - GLC/EDB and then Scotrail afterwards seems to be the sensible policy.
My original query could apply to XC. If a pre 0930 train is the only one you can catch then why not allow some ticket flexibility for the longer journey. Still keep the 0930 restriction for Inverness but allow a SVR to be valid for stations further north or west such as Kyle or Invergordon onwards ?
Thanks Calc, I've re-read the thread. Makes more sense now.
A final point which needs clearing ; does the XC 2V restriction apply ONLY to XC trains out of BHM ? If EC had a service northwards out of BHM ( pre 0930) could I be allowed to use that TOC ? Or does the restriction apply carte blanche to all TOCs ?
 
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calc7

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Virgin ONLY between BHM - GLC/EDB and then Scotrail afterwards seems to be the sensible policy.
My original query could apply to XC. If a pre 0930 train is the only one you can catch then why not allow some ticket flexibility for the longer journey. Still keep the 0930 restriction for Inverness but allow a SVR to be valid for stations further north or west such as Kyle or Invergordon onwards ?

In all honesty it's probably just not been thought about.

As a rule of thumb, CrossCountry are *****.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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A final point which needs clearing ; does the XC 2V restriction apply ONLY to XC trains out of BHM ? If EC had a service northwards out of BHM ( pre 0930) could I be allowed to use that TOC ? Or does the restriction apply carte blanche to all TOCs ?

For Kyle, the 2V restriction is on the Any Permitted fare, so applies to all routes/TOCs.
For Glasgow, 2V applies to "Via York" and 2U to "Via Preston".

I'm confused about Edinburgh.
Avantix 11 shows restriction 2V, but when you check on VT's web site the same fare (£117.40) says "VT Only" and is valid on the early trains.
 

island

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A final point which needs clearing ; does the XC 2V restriction apply ONLY to XC trains out of BHM ? If EC had a service northwards out of BHM ( pre 0930) could I be allowed to use that TOC ? Or does the restriction apply carte blanche to all TOCs ?

A 2V-restriction ticket cannot, in general, be used on any TOC, from any station, before 0930 on a weekday. An exception would be where it is valid for, and used for, travel via London, on a journey from within the Network area to outside the Network area or v/v, in which case it would be unrestricted on the leg within the Network area.
 

SickyNicky

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A 2V-restriction ticket cannot, in general, be used on any TOC, from any station, before 0930 on a weekday. An exception would be where it is valid for, and used for, travel via London, on a journey from within the Network area to outside the Network area or v/v, in which case it would be unrestricted on the leg within the Network area.

Correct. Although restriction 2V tends not to be used on tickets that are valid cross London (they tend to be routed NOT VIA LONDON in these cases), so the Network area derestriction won't normally come into play.

The electronic version of restriction 2V bars any trains that departs the origin station between 02:30 and 09:29 Mon-Fri and has nothing in it that might allow trains before this going into London. So you are unlikely to be able to book 2V tickets online that depart before 09:30. I will stand back now as the crowd starts proving me wrong :)
 

bb21

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I think we decided a few months ago that the High Wycombe to Kyle of Lochalsh SSR priced by East Coast is valid for any train so long as you avoid CrossCountry, and a couple that start from London Euston (though if you start at BHM on VT then this isn't an issue).

Price is £165.10

This is correct.

The High Wycombe - Kyle of Lochalsh Route +Any Permitted flow is priced by East Coast and has restriction 9F for the Super Off-Peak Return.

There is no restriction for travelling on services from Birmingham to the North except when the service originates from London or when the operator is CrossCountry.

There is no break of journey restriction on this ticket which means that you are permitted to start short at Birmingham New Street.

Birmingham Stations - Kyle of Lochalsh had the restriction changed from 8X to 2V at the beginning of this year, along with many other long-distance flows priced by XC, amid claims from CrossCountry that the quota for cheap Advance fares has been increased and they are now a suitable substitute for long distance travel, however in most cases they are rarer than gold dust if you cannot book 12 weeks in advance.

The High Wycombe ticket is cheaper than the cheapest walk-on fare from Birmingham anyway.
 

John @ home

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I think we decided a few months ago that the High Wycombe to Kyle of Lochalsh SSR priced by East Coast is valid for any train so long as you avoid CrossCountry, and a couple that start from London Euston (though if you start at BHM on VT then this isn't an issue).
This is correct.

The High Wycombe - Kyle of Lochalsh Route +Any Permitted flow is priced by East Coast and has restriction 9F for the Super Off-Peak Return.
I agree that the relevant Restriction is 9F. But this prohibits trains from Marylebone Mon-Fri 0301-0905. For the first five High Wycombe - Birmingham trains, this means
  • 0610 - Valid (starts at High Wycombe)
  • 0725 - Not valid (dep Marylebone 0700)
  • 0757 - Not valid (dep Marylebone 0733)
  • 0829 - Not valid (dep Marylebone 0803)
  • 0931 - Valid (dep Marylebone 0907).

There is no restriction for travelling on services from Birmingham to the North except when the service originates from London or when the operator is CrossCountry.

There is no break of journey restriction on this ticket which means that you are permitted to start short at Birmingham New Street.
I agree with both these paragraphs. See this post for my full validity calculation.
 

General Zod

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Thanks All.
Very succinctly explained and clears the mess in my head.
I recall from older version of the Avantix NFM ( ver 8 I think) that the HWY-KYL fare was priced by Virgin. Was this possible ? This may have been one of the reasons for my confusion.

bb21 : I've been looking for a cheap BHM-KYL advance fare for close to two years - never found one. There once existed a Virgin £20 Advance HWY-KYL when the fare was set by Virgin ( ?) but I never ever found that for sale either.
 

OwlMan

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A Rugby to Kyle SVR is cheaper at £152.60 or a Rugeley Tv - Kyle ticket is even cheaper at £149.80, both are vaild to start short at Birmingham and both are 2T (after 0415)

Peter
 

yorkie

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I recall from older version of the Avantix NFM ( ver 8 I think) that the HWY-KYL fare was priced by Virgin. Was this possible ? This may have been one of the reasons for my confusion.
.


It would have been Virgin XC if you go back far enough. Which made some sense as XC used to used to operate via the West Coast as well as the East Coast before the DfT changed the franchise spec.
bb21 : I've been looking for a cheap BHM-KYL advance fare for close to two years - never found one. .
I suggest you write to XC.

Sample letter:-
Dear Sir/Madam,

Before 'Simplification' in 2007 under Virgin Cross Country I used to be able to buy a Birmingham to Kyle of Lochalsh 'Saver Return' for £128.70, valid on any train. A fair price for such a journey.

In order to make this long journey I need to start my journey early in the morning. For example, on the outward leg, if I do not leave by 0920 I cannot get there the same day. For the return leg, if I do not catch the train at 0621, then I will not get back until 11pm which is too late.

The price has been increasing for a while, but recently jumped up to £324.00 - a nearly 3-fold increase in 5 years!

Clearly, leisure customers such as myself cannot afford to pay £324.

I am told it is Cross Country who sets this fare. Therefore, I would appreciate your response to the following questions.

  • Why have you increased the cost so dramatically?
  • Do you feel this fare is good value for money?
  • What do you suggest I can do to make this journey affordable by rail?
  • Is this fare designed to put people off using rail and to go by coach or air instead?
Thanks in advance.


Yours sincerely,
I would send a copy to Virgin West Coast, saying that you wish to travel with them, and you have asked XC why the fare is so expensive, and what would Virgin recommend?

Yes, we can provide solutions here such as starting short or "splitting" but I'd be very interested to hear what the TOCs say. Bear in mind that if someone did not know about this forum, they may believe that their only choices are to pay a daft fare, or not go by rail. I wonder how many people go by road or air instead...
 

MikeWh

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Dear yorkie,

Buy Advances.

Regards

XC Customer Service.

Dear XC Customer Service,

I want the flexibility to only go when the weather is nice. Will you refund my Advance purchased 12 weeks early if it rains on the day?

Regards,

Soon to be ex-rail customer.
 

yorkie

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Dear yorkie,

Buy Advances.

Regards

XC Customer Service.
If they said that I would respond by saying that no Advance tickets can be found for any of the journey opportunities.

(There is also the issue that XC do not have any Advance fares for this flow, but I'd not bother saying that)
 

All Line Rover

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I have a question regarding this issue.

Isn't the Off-Peak Return (SVR) ticket regulated? XC are preventing customers travelling from Birmingham to Kyle of Lochalsh from using that ticket, unless they are willing to break their journey overnight (which few are). Surely preventing people from using regulated tickets must be contravening legislation? As the whole point of regulated tickets is to ensure that rail remains an affordable mode of transport for all (within reason)!?

It's worth noting that none of the main journey planners allow you to purchase the Off-Peak Return ticket, because they are unable to come up with any journey itineraries!

The last departure from Birmingham that allows the journey to be completed in one day is the 09:20. What's really ironic is that by buying the ticket from Wolverhampton (departing at 09:37, this being the first stop on the 09:20 from Birmingham) the fare plummets from £324 return to £164.70. :roll:
 

yorkie

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Isn't the Off-Peak Return (SVR) ticket regulated? XC are preventing customers travelling from Birmingham to Kyle of Lochalsh from using that ticket, unless they are willing to break their journey overnight (which few are). Surely preventing people from using regulated tickets must be contravening legislation? As the whole point of regulated tickets is to ensure that rail remains an affordable mode of transport for all (within reason)!?
Yes, the SVR fare is regulated. Sadly, there appears to be nothing in the regulation that says that passengers should not have to pay a huge premium to avoid an overnight stay! For this we can blame the Government of the time of privatisation.
It's worth noting that none of the main journey planners allow you to purchase the Off-Peak Return ticket, because they are unable to come up with any journey itineraries!
Indeed, that is correct. That is why XC should be made to answer for this mess. It is XC who created it. I also think it's worth copying Virgin in on the correspondence. It looks to me like a case of XC pricing off Virgin's passengers off rail and onto road/air transport!
The last departure from Birmingham that allows the journey to be completed in one day is the 09:20. What's really ironic is that by buying the ticket from Wolverhampton (departing at 09:37, this being the first stop on the 09:20 from Birmingham) the fare plummets from £324 return to £164.70. :roll:
Yes, but that train is apparently full of Birmingham to Wolverhampton commuters you see, and for that a premium of £159.30 applies ;)

It's a similar story for a passenger travelling from Par (depart 0928) to York on the only through train of the day, there are apparently loads of Par to Bodmin Parkway (arrive 0937) commuters and for this, a huge premium applies from Par. (£333 is the return fare from Par to York, while £155.70 is the return fare from Bodmin Parkway!). The premium between Par & Bodmin on that train is a whopping £177.30.

The managers who decide these things are completely out of touch with reality.

Perhaps the local media in Cornwall would be interested in a potential story?

And perhaps Scotland's National Tourist Board would be interested to know how Cross Country are pricing people off journeys to Scotland?
 

John @ home

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Isn't the Off-Peak Return (SVR) ticket regulated?
Yes.
Surely preventing people from using regulated tickets must be contravening legislation?
Preventing passengers from using regulated tickets at a time that they must be made available would be contravening the terms of the franchise. Unfortunately, I don't think this has happened in this instance.
Rail Fares and Ticketing Review: Initial consultation said:
Annex A: How fares and ticketing regulation works

33. Long-distance travel
An off-peak, walk-up fare for long-distance journeys is regulated where an equivalent fare existed in 2003. Both the price and the restrictions on these fares are regulated: these fares must be available for use after 10.30 on weekdays and all day at the weekend, except for journeys from London area stations or (when travelling away from London) from stations between London and Reading, Watford, Luton or Stevenage inclusive, where train operators are permitted to restrict the use of these fares between 15.00 and 19.00 Monday to Friday.

http://assets.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-09/main-document.pdf
By allowing the SVR Birmingham - Kyle "by any train except those scheduled to depart Monday to Friday before 0930", XC appear to be meeting the requirement that the "fare must be available for use after 10.30 on weekdays and all day at the weekend".
 

All Line Rover

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I get the impression that absolutely no thought was paid to passengers making long distance journeys when this legislation was drafted up.

However, it still might be worth complaining to the DfT and/or ATOC and/or local authorities about this matter, as I don't think it is within the spirit of the rules to prevent people from being able to use regulated tickets in a reasonable way.
 

General Zod

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Here is a list of supposed various Advance single tickets available for the BHM-KYL journey.



I've searched up to the end of July ( on the XC booking site) and the only fares coming up are the Anytime singles (1st & STD). A similar thing happens on the Virgin trains website. I begin to question myself , "Do Advance singles for this route actually exist and if so then the quota must sell out very quickly ?" Surely there isn't such a high demand for the journey that the latter is the case ? I would be most enlightening to know how many BMH-KYL VWC & Connections £23 Advances go on sale and if any lucky customer has had the good fortune to be in a position to purchase one !
 

Failed Unit

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Don't be surprised about the quota selling out, remember scotrail will have a lower quota than virgin. It could of course be that scotrail is not open yet. Inter-operator APs are a pain!
 

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Presumably, for inter-operator APs, it is quite feasible that none are ever available for the through route, because the leg which goes on sale first may sell out so quickly that by the time the second leg is available, there is no AP availability on the first train?
 

HowMuch?

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Presumably, for inter-operator APs, it is quite feasible that none are ever available for the through route, because the leg which goes on sale first may sell out so quickly that by the time the second leg is available, there is no AP availability on the first train?

Perhaps if pushed to reply when an Advance BHM-KYL was actually available (because the peak fare to avoid overnighting is so high) CrossCountry would admit that the only way to do both halves of the journey was on split tickets.
 
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yorkie

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XC have been known to advise people to buy a combination of tickets. I'd be interested to hear what they advise for this journey.
 
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