Changes in advance fare terms (Virgin West Coast)

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by AndyLandy, 30 Oct 2011.

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  1. AndyLandy

    AndyLandy Established Member

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    Hello, newbie here, but this looks like the sort of place where I might get an expert's opinion, so here goes...

    For many years now, I've been travelling between Southampton Central and Crewe, via London using advance tickets. In the past, these tickets would say "Virgin WC and connections" in the route area and I'd have a mandatory reservation on the Euston-Crewe service.

    There was never much said about the Southampton-Waterloo section though. I was told by a ticket retailer that it was a connecting service and considered "freesale", which meant that the ticket terms were more flexible. Often, I'd break a return journey and spend a few hours in London and catch a later SWT service back, all without any problems.

    Recently, on a return trip back to Southampton, I made the EUS-WAT connection in good time, so was able to board the half-hour earlier WAT-SOU service. On-board, the guard asked to see my reservations and pointed out that I had a mandatory reservation on the later train. Sure enough, looking at the reservations, I did indeed have a mandatory reservation for the connecting service. He was kind enough to not make a fuss about it, but said I should be aware of it for the next time.

    So, my question is has this always been the case, or has it changed recently? I've not been able to track any information down about it. Any input on the matter would be gratefully received. I'm making another trip in a few days and I'd like to know where I stand.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

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    Sounds like he let you off without hassle etc TBH!
     
  4. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Indeed! Welcome :)

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/advance_conditions.html

    The definition of Break of Journey can be found in NRCoC.


    Break of journey is never allowed on Advance tickets.

    Break of journey is always allowed on Anytime tickets (source: National Rail Enquiries) and on the return portion of Off Peak tickets (source: The Manual), and for outward portions of Off Peak tickets it is sometimes not allowed (though the NRCoC requires such prohibitions to be "made clear", and it is dubious whether they are in some cases!)


    It's a can of worms.

    Before SWT did their own Advance products (perhaps 2 years ago?), there was no reservation coupon issued on any SWT services.

    However now that SWT do their own Advance products, some SWT services are what I call "semi-reserveable" which means that you get a coupon, with a train specified, but no actual seat reserved. This only applies for longer-distance services. This system is in place for several other TOCs (as discussed in the SWT Seat reservations thread) including Arriva Trains Wales, Chiltern, London Midland, National Express East Anglia, ScotRail, SWT and Southern. Historically, many of these services operated by these TOCs have tended to not offer reservations and/or not offer Advance tickets, with Advance tickets historically only being available on former "InterCity" services (and connections). But now that Advance tickets are becoming the norm for any medium to long distance service, the TOCs that historically did not offer them, now want to offer such products but without the hassle that comes with providing an actual seat reservation.

    Whether you are tied to a specific train on the connections leg, is highly debatable and numerous topics have discussed this issue (though most of them refer to when there is no train specified for the 'Connection' leg)



    If you have a reservation for a 'connecting' service, and wish to take an earlier train, my advice in future would be to seek the guard before departure and ask first; you may find that the guard agrees to the request, after all, the intention appears to be (and certainly, historically was) to restrict you to the 'InterCity'-type operators train, rather than tie you to specific connecting services. This would avoid any potential problems on board the train. If the guard says no, then I would advise against arguing, and not board the train.

    Before 'Simplification', some TOCs used to make it clear, e.g. a York to Southampton Route: GNER & Connections had the following in the restriction code:

    That made it clear that it was only the GNER train that was specific, and connecting trains were not specific.

    Now the rules have been made 'simple' and apply generically, the new wording on all Advance tickets is as follows:

    Now, the question as to whether or not taking an earlier train is "appropriate" is debatable. Also the earlier train is not shown "on the ticket(s) or other valid travel itinerary", however some people have argued that if you can get the National Rail website to provide a valid travel itinerary for the trains you want to use (e.g. by using the 'Reduce transfer times through London' option), then that's okay.

    I doubt we will ever see universal agreement on this issue.
     
  5. Matt Taylor

    Matt Taylor Established Member

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    The issue is highlighted by the fact there are AP flows which are less expensive than SWT SDRs to Waterloo, for example Portsmouth to Peterborogh on an AP ticket can be cheaper than a Portsmouth to Waterloo SDR, some passengers have cottoned to this and buy the Peterborough ticket to save some money but travel at times that do not correspond with the booked trains in and out of Kings Cross.

    I am not aware of any PFs or prosecutions in respect of not being on the 'booked' train in and out of Waterloo however I would be curious to know how an RPI would proceed if you were booked on a train out of Kings Cross at 0830 but were found travelling on a train that did not arrive in Waterloo before 0830.
     
  6. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Are you suggesting here Yorkie that SWT only started selling Advance fares a couple of years ago? I don't think that is right.

    At the so-called 'fares simplification' (May 2008 IIRC) they changed to selling Advance singles only, basically to fall in line with the new all singles system, but immediately prior to that change they were issuing the old Apex returns etc, for journeys of a certain length, with normal seat reservations.
     
    Last edited: 30 Oct 2011
  7. MarkyMarkD

    MarkyMarkD Member

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    I would have thought that in those circumstances, the connecting train was evidently not appropriate, and hence the ticket would not be valid for travel.

    Surely far more common would be the OP's scenario, of getting to London in ample time for the connection - and, in fact, breaking the journey, although there is no credible way for this to be monitored by the TOCs given that most cross-London journeys involve time outside the National Rail system (either on the tube or walking between stations).
     
  8. extendedpaul

    extendedpaul Member

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    I travel regularly to Wales on an advance ticket which is valid on HS1. The cost is less than the single fare from Kent to London.

    I do always travel on the recommended services to and from London but I've never been asked for the reservation ticket for the Paddington to Cardiff leg (or reverse) in well over a hundred journeys.
     
  9. island

    island Established Member

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    No change in terms. You are not, and were never, supposed to break your journey on an Advance ticket. If you do, you are liable to be excessed to a walk-up ticket plus £10.

    I am less sure what applies to using a ticket so late that you could not possibly make your connection (e.g. using a non-reservable train that arrives into a London terminal after your booked train is due to leave another London terminal). I believe the outcome there would be undefined behaviour on the part of the guard/RPI who pulled you up.
     
  10. wibble

    wibble Member

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    SWT have offered Apex/Advance tickets on the Waterloo - Southampton - Bournemouth route for at least 15 years so there would always have been a quota for this type of journey.

    All of their Waterloo - Weymouth (+ Waterloo - Poole on Sundays) have an Advance quota on them, except for the last few services to/from London.
     
  11. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    There was a discussion somewhere (perhaps in uk.railway) a while back following someone being given a 'train only' reservation on the Portsmouth portion of a Poole/Portsmouth splitting service. The journey planner had booked him via Eastleigh because of engineering works for that particular Sunday, which had apparently been something of a surprise, as normally the Portsmouth direct route is not quota controlled.

    I agree the original poster here's experience is not a recent change at all. It may be that on previous journeys the obvious connection wasn't a Weymouth service, so just had no quota...
     
  12. AndyLandy

    AndyLandy Established Member

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    OK, thanks for all the replies so far. I suspect the subtlety is that I'm not "breaking" my journey because of clause (i)

    That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm leaving Euston so I can join a train at Waterloo, so I'm not technically breaking my journey. Combine that with a ticket that didn't stipulate a connecting service (or had a recommended connecting service) and you're left with this grey area. In the case of staying a long time in London, I could understand an RPI considering that a break of journey.

    Getting to Waterloo early is slightly more complicated because I'm clearly not breaking my journey. Essentially that comes down to the large time-windows that you're allocated to make a tube crossing. I guess if I have to wait in Waterloo for half an hour and have a coffee, I'll live with it.

    On the other hand, it's only the VWC portion that's been issued from a quota-controlled supply. You'd have thought SWT would prefer it if I stayed in London and got a later, quieter train back to Southampton instead of riding the 4pm-ish one I'm reserved on. Crazy talk, I know. :D

    So, I guess my conclusion is that the AP tickets have saved me about the cost of a Travelcard from Southampton, I should stick to the rules on the tickets and use the saving to go to London on another occasion.
     
  13. wibble

    wibble Member

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    If you're booked on the 1605 train you'll have no trouble getting a seat in the front 3 coaches (unfortunately, this does mean walking half the distance to Vauxhall and practically walking back from Millbrook to exit at Southampton! :lol::lol:).
     
  14. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    No. I don't think you've read this thread fully. The train from Waterloo does have a quota for Advance fares - that's why the system generated a booked train reservation. Although you cannot buy a stand alone Waterloo to Southampton Advance ticket, your booking is reducing the number of SWT Advance fares available on that train from Waterloo to Brockenhurst and beyond.

    I think that there is a an underlying belief here that the SWT leg should always just be a recommended '+ connections' leg in the usual manner, which of course it would be if you were booked to a suburban destination - but if you view the Waterloo - Weymouth line as quasi-intercity, with journey times possibly longer than many made on the WCML into Euston, it looks a bit different...

    For an example, look up tomorrow's 1605 service out of Waterloo - although it is clearly in the peak there are still Advance fares available for stations west of Brockenhurst.
     
  15. AndyLandy

    AndyLandy Established Member

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    OK, I know that SWT offer Waterloo - Brockenhurst and beyond as advance fares. (Indeed, it's been suggested before that it's cheaper to go SOU-BCU and BCU-WAT that direct to London). The thing I was never sure of was whether a VWC and connections ticket actually counts against this quota. I'm given a reservation, but no seat allocation. Surely if it was a full reservation, I'd have a mandatory seat as well?

    The other thing is that I always get offered consistent connections, so it's always 50-70 minutes to cross London. I'd have expected to see the odd case where I have a longer connection in London because that's just how the quotas worked out. I guess it's possible that I've just got lucky, or that they simply don't even offer services where the connection time is longer than necessary.
     
  16. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    No one gets seat reservations on SWT since the end of 2009. If you were doing this journey more than two years ago, you would have got a reserved seat, you now get a reserved train. This is in common with London Midland, Southern and Chiltern's Advance sales.
     
  17. AndyLandy

    AndyLandy Established Member

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    OK, so in that case there really is no grey area. I'm being allocated a quotaed ticket on VWC and I'm being allocated a quotaed ticket on SWT. As per my comment above, I guess the situation is just "accept it, and be grateful for the savings"

    Thanks for all your input guys, it's at least been enlightening to learn about how these tickets all fit together.
     
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