"Britrail" for all?

Jurg

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A Guardian article suggesting that a pass similar to Britrail will soon be available for UK passengers, to encourage domestic tourism. Low on details as yet.

In a bid to encourage people to holiday at home instead of abroad, an alternative to the “BritRail” pass for foreign visitors will be launched, letting Britons travel across the UK cheaper on certain days of their break, and possibly allowing children to travel free.
 
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JB_B

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See p34 https://assets.publishing.service.g...74/Tourism_Recovery_Plan__Web_Accessible_.pdf

"Working with the Rail Delivery Group, the government and VisitBritain will pursue the development of a new domestic rail tourism product to accelerate the recovery of domestic tourism. Introducing an offer for domestic tourists will encourage sustainable domestic holiday travel and reduce tourism’s reliance on cars. It would build on the success of rail tourism products such as the BritRail pass, which is sold through the VisitBritain Shop and provides international visitors with flexible travel across the network to spread the benefits of tourism across the country, as well as provide discounted attraction entry. The aim is to launch this new domestic rail tourism product later in the year, subject to a successful business case being developed.
[my bold]

So...

(1) might not happen

(2) might only very superficially resemble BritRail
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Looks more like a tourist ticket with travel concessions than a discounted rail pass.
A 7-day (standard) All Line Rover is £540, while the nearest equivalent Britrailpass (8 day) is USD 380 or £268.
The domestic pass has peak time restrictions, while the Britrail version doesn't.
The domestic version has better (34%) discounts with railcards, Britrail has 15/20% for various groups.
 

yorksrob

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It's certainly encouraging that they're thinking about this sort of thing.

I wonder if it might end up looking more like the "five in ten" type all line rover idea that I mooted in another thread (and got pilloried for by certain forum members as there "couldn't possibly be domestic tourists who would want freedom to travel around the country by train....")
 

Cardiff123

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This pass obviously won't be launched for this summer season (most schools finish for summer 5 weeks today), as The Guardian article states that:
Details about how much the rail pass will cost and which venues the vouchers can be used at are expected to come later this summer
Which is a big opportunity missed. This summer is being touted as the 'staycation summer' yet they will be launching a discounted rail pass to encourage UK rail travel and domestic tourism in the autumn?
 

Dr Day

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The challenge, as always, is to get the right balance between product features (ie restrictions), ease of purchase/usage etc and price, noting the potential abstraction from 'normal' fares by people who would be travelling anyway and prepared to pay those fares, including those travelling on holiday or for other leisure reasons. Make it too cheap and flexible and there is a risk of the trains which would have been popular anyway being overwhelmed and the industry actually losing revenue even if it gains volume. Plus those passengers getting a poor experience hence not travelling again. It is relatively easy for Britrail to be cheap and flexible compared with the hassle of a mix of Advances, local rovers and various day tickets as there is a mechanic to control and limit the overseas market - that doesn't exist with the significantly larger potential domestic market.

Would be a gamble, but good to see cross-industry initiatives being proposed rather than the individual TOC marketing campaigns and promotions which don't often match with longer distance door-to-door trips many people actually want to make.
 

Goldfish62

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I suspect for the likely use-cases for this a blanket "not before 1000 Mon-Fri" would limit abstraction to the point of it being negligible.
But that would also render the use of the ticket as negligible for many people because you're going to lose half a day before you get anywhere.

If the DfT wants to take such a low risk approach to revenue (ie zero commercial risk) then it would be best not to bother with the scheme at all.
 

Bletchleyite

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But that would also render the use of the ticket as negligible for many people because you're going to lose half a day before you get anywhere.

I don't agree. You're approaching it with the view of an enthusiast who crams in as many trains as possible (which is what the ALR is for; if you aren't going to be spending all of every day on trains it's poor value and separate tickets or regional Rangers/Rovers will be cheaper). Most tourists don't. It's just basically giving it a validity similar to Off Peak tickets which are heavily used by leisure travellers - and bonus, no evening restriction so you can go the night before.
 

Haywain

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If the DfT wants to take such a low risk approach to revenue (ie zero commercial risk) then it would be best not to bother with the scheme at all.
From the DfT point of view a new product which has minimal impact on revenue but grabs headlines could be a winner. A flexi version of the All Line Rover (with the same restrictions) could be a winner.
 

JonathanH

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From the DfT point of view a new product which has minimal impact on revenue but grabs headlines could be a winner. A flexi version of the All Line Rover (with the same restrictions) could be a winner.
The existing All Line Rover was already accused of abstracting revenue. I fail to see how something which is more flexible is going to be less of an issue in that respect even with the same restrictions.
 

najaB

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I suspect for the likely use-cases for this a blanket "not before 1000 Mon-Fri" would limit abstraction to the point of it being negligible.
That would work in the summer, but in the autumn/winter that's half the day gone - especially in as you head up further north. A better option might be to limit the time you can leave stations: "Not valid to arrive before 10am" on the basis that the majority of "commuter" stations are gated, but it would let someone get a start on their day trip from (for example) London to Newcastle arriving at 10am rather than 1pm.
 

yorksrob

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The existing All Line Rover was already accused of abstracting revenue. I fail to see how something which is more flexible is going to be less of an issue in that respect even with the same restrictions.

Anybody accusing the current ALR is clueless. It's only useful to track bashers.
 

JonathanH

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Anybody accusing the current ALR is clueless. It's only useful to track bashers.
It isn't even useful to them as that sort of stuff is better done on regional tickets. It is only useful to people who want to spend all day on long-distance trains (and previously to people who recognised that it undercut some peak time fares).
 

30907

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That would work in the summer, but in the autumn/winter that's half the day gone - especially in as you head up further north.
True, but that's the condition applied to most Offpeak tickets and some Railcards (2Tog nationally...).
This pass obviously won't be launched for this summer season (most schools finish for summer 5 weeks today), as The Guardian article states that:

Which is a big opportunity missed. This summer is being touted as the 'staycation summer' yet they will be launching a discounted rail pass to encourage UK rail travel and domestic tourism in the autumn?
There doesn't seem to be a general problem getting people out and about ATM.
 

mmh

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But that would also render the use of the ticket as negligible for many people because you're going to lose half a day before you get anywhere.

If the DfT wants to take such a low risk approach to revenue (ie zero commercial risk) then it would be best not to bother with the scheme at all.

Not necessarily. Most people who go on holiday by rail will want to arrive close to the check-in time of their hotel, which is commonly 3pm and few people will be considering 5 hour plus journeys. Once at their hotel, a 10am start isn't hugely limiting - it gives time for breakfast and still having a full afternoon somewhere on the sort of journeys likely to be taken for day trips, while avoiding commuters, if that's a consideration in the area.

Changing hotels each day makes for a really unattractive holiday. Check out and check in times generally make this a very restrictive way to travel, and most like a couple of days to get their bearings and get the feel of a place. Having done a tour of Scotland (by car) with multiple one-night stops I would never do the same again.
 

yorksrob

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It isn't even useful to them as that sort of stuff is better done on regional tickets. It is only useful to people who want to spend all day on long-distance trains (and previously to people who recognised that it undercut some peak time fares).

Prior to the time restrictions it was useful as e.g. a Manchester-London season ticket (being cheaper than that, which does exist).

Yes, it would have been better when Lord Adonis mentioned it positively.
 

mmh

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That would work in the summer, but in the autumn/winter that's half the day gone - especially in as you head up further north. A better option might be to limit the time you can leave stations: "Not valid to arrive before 10am" on the basis that the majority of "commuter" stations are gated, but it would let someone get a start on their day trip from (for example) London to Newcastle arriving at 10am rather than 1pm.

Realistically, the number of people tempted by such a long day trip will be vanishingly small!
 

najaB

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Realistically, the number of people tempted by such a long day trip will be vanishingly small!
So then what's the problem? The restriction won't affect most people using the ticket and make it more useful to those who do want to have a day/couple of days in another part of the country.
 

Goldfish62

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Realistically, the number of people tempted by such a long day trip will be vanishingly small!
Surely the ticket is meant for people who are travelling around the country, not for one-off day trippers.

Not necessarily. Most people who go on holiday by rail will want to arrive close to the check-in time of their hotel, which is commonly 3pm and few people will be considering 5 hour plus journeys. Once at their hotel, a 10am start isn't hugely limiting - it gives time for breakfast and still having a full afternoon somewhere on the sort of journeys likely to be taken for day trips, while avoiding commuters, if that's a consideration in the area.

Changing hotels each day makes for a really unattractive holiday. Check out and check in times generally make this a very restrictive way to travel, and most like a couple of days to get their bearings and get the feel of a place. Having done a tour of Scotland (by car) with multiple one-night stops I would never do the same again.
You're making a lot of assumptions about how people like to use their time when on holiday!

The fewer restrictions there are the more appeal the ticket will have.
 

yorksrob

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Surely the ticket is meant for people who are travelling around the country, not for one-off day trippers.

Might be useful for someone doing a day trip from Newcastle to Penzance (for example) but those sorts of journeys are a niche market anyway !
 

mmh

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Surely the ticket is meant for people who are travelling around the country, not for one-off day trippers.

As @Bletchleyite said earlier, I think people are looking at this too much from the perspective of a rail enthusiast for whom the journey is the holiday. I believe far more people would be interested in such a pass for occasional use through their holiday than continual long-distance travel.

As an example, someone might wish to base themselves somewhere and travel around from there. I'd quite like to base myself somewhere like Bristol or Taunton, and explore via day trips the parts of the south-west I never have. Or, they might want to go long-distance on their first day, but shorter from there on in doing a "tour" of a region. I'd like to replicate my Scotland car "tour", but with a more sensible (fewer!) stop-over pattern, which could go something like, if I only wanted cities:

Day 1 Wales - Glasgow
Day 3 Glasgow - Inverness
Day 5 Inverness - Edinburgh
Day 7 Edinburgh - Wales

I could see an x-in-y days product being attractive. I simply don't see daily super long-distance travel as appealing outside the enthusiasts' market, who if they want to will be doing it anyway.
 

Cardiff123

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There doesn't seem to be a general problem getting people out and about ATM.
True, but the problem is that the vast majority of those journeys are still by car, with people still mistakenly believing that public transport is 'contaminated' thanks to the deeply negative messaging around public transport that there's been throughout the pandemic. It's a situation that is simply not sustainable.

Schemes like this will only scratch the surface in tempting people back on to the trains, much more is needed
 

mmh

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True, but the problem is that the vast majority of those journeys are still by car, with people still mistakenly believing that public transport is 'contaminated' thanks to the deeply negative messaging around public transport that there's been throughout the pandemic. It's a situation that is simply not sustainable.

Schemes like this will only scratch the surface in tempting people back on to the trains, much more is needed

This isn't the pattern I currently see here in North Wales. The trains are busy with people who don't care about the messaging. The roads are busy with people who either know the train service is an awful skeleton service, or who would have driven anyway. The towns are busy with people, none of whom are the people who care about contamination - they are still at home.
 

The exile

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Better publicity for an improved range of regional rovers (particularly the 3/4 days in 7) with removal of “ not valid on operator xyz” restrictions, and inclusion of all local bus services would probably do most of what’s wanted. These should cover the whole of the country with decent overlaps and be available from all Tvms and online
 

yorksrob

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Better publicity for an improved range of regional rovers (particularly the 3/4 days in 7) with removal of “ not valid on operator xyz” restrictions, and inclusion of all local bus services would probably do most of what’s wanted. These should cover the whole of the country with decent overlaps and be available from all Tvms and online

It would be a lot easier to come up eith a rail solution such as this, than to negotiate hundreds of agreements with bus providers.
 

mmh

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So then what's the problem? The restriction won't affect most people using the ticket and make it more useful to those who do want to have a day/couple of days in another part of the country.

I believe the posters proposing a time restriction believe it would be necessary to prevent the pass being used as a long-distance season ticket. I think it's quite likely there would be some form of restriction, given that to be priced at a point to make it popular the pass would need to undercut many long-distance season ticket fares. Another consideration could be not wanting to encourage leisure travel during morning peak commute time, in areas where that is an issue.

Better publicity for an improved range of regional rovers (particularly the 3/4 days in 7) with removal of “ not valid on operator xyz” restrictions, and inclusion of all local bus services would probably do most of what’s wanted. These should cover the whole of the country with decent overlaps and be available from all Tvms and online

Regional rovers are somewhat flawed though. They're confusing, by their nature restrict travel to arbitrary artificial regions and don't allow the passenger to travel to the area they're valid in to be able to use them. I can see the appeal in something less complicated and with better mass-market appeal. Perhaps the two could exist happily alongside each other.
 

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