CrossCountry fares policy. Their own fault or slaves to the system?

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bignosemac

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I've just spent a hour or so pricing up a fairly long distance journey I intend to make on Sat 2nd June. Bristol to York (for Railfest) and back the same day. Out at 0730, return at 1744.

Starting point for my pricing was the Off Peak Return (Not London) at £67.80 with railcard. Not bad but I know I can do better!

Next I look at 2x Advance Purchase for the through journeys out and return and I get the price down to £55.40. Better....

Next is splitting the journey up so that I can buy a series of Off Peak Day Returns. This brings the price down to £48.40. That's if I've found the best splits....

Finally I looked at a combination of short distance Advance Purchases and Off Peak Day Returns and I got the price down to £39.20. With the bonus of booking a cheaper AP (than XCs 1744) on the 1750 EMT from York to Sheffield (ex Scarborough - HST?) giving me 45 mins at Sheffield to have wander round a station I've not been to in years.

It's that last total price and combination of tickets that made me ponder. I'm just wondering why CrossCountry price their flows in such a way that a combination of short distance XC Advances beats their own longer distance Advance. Thanks to their 'pick a seat' booking service I was able to join up 3 x shorter distance Advance Purchase in each direction and ensure I will be sat in the same seat.

I'm assuming they price these shorter distance Advances to undercut the walk-up fares on that flow that are often set by another operator. By doing so they get all the revenue from the Advance rather than just a share of the walk up. The consequence of that decision though is that these shorter distances Advances, when used in combination, undercut CrossCountry's own longer distance Advances.

So is that their own fault or are CrossCountry a slave to the system, hamstrung by the nature of the routes they run where many flows are priced by others?
 
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142094

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I'm assuming they price these shorter distance Advances to undercut the walk-up fares on that flow that are often set by another operator. By doing so they get all the revenue from the Advance rather than just a share of the walk up. The consequence of that decision though is that these shorter distances Advances, when used in combination, undercut CrossCountry's own longer distance Advances.
Think you've hit the nail on the head there - XC also do some XC Only tickets that you can buy on the day to do just that.

TPE also have some similar advances, such as between York and Darlington which undercuts EC and XC.
 

hairyhandedfool

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It's a combination of the two I think, but also a realisation that fewer people actual look for splits (by some margin I'd imagine).
 

bb21

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Goes someway to show how pricing their medium/long-distances flows at ridiculous rates is a mistake and how a savvy passenger can easily avoid being ripped off, giving XC even less revenue than if they priced their flows sensibly.

A bit of an own goal for XC.
 

Squaddie

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A bit of an own goal for XC.
I'd guess that around 99% of passengers simply buy a ticket for their entire journey without even thinking about splits. So XC probably feels that they can afford to lose revenue from the 1% because they're fleecing the other 99%.
 

MarkyMarkD

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Goes someway to show how pricing their medium/long-distances flows at ridiculous rates is a mistake and how a savvy passenger can easily avoid being ripped off, giving XC even less revenue than if they priced their flows sensibly.

A bit of an own goal for XC.
Given how many posts there are about XC trains being over-crowded, I don't think it is an own goal at all - it's a clever way of pricing and maximising revenue because most customers simply pay the high fares they ask for.
 

142094

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Given how many posts there are about XC trains being over-crowded, I don't think it is an own goal at all - it's a clever way of pricing and maximising revenue because most customers simply pay the high fares they ask for.
Or, it acts as a disincentive and allows for yield management.
 

mirodo

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If you've got 45 mins to spare in Sheffield and like a pint, I'd suggest wandering to the Sheffield Tap and sampling their wares.
 

wintonian

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Must admit I have been known to buy these short distance AP's like for the hours trip to Bournemouth for £2/3 but only if I know I'm staying away for a few days and I have to be there/ finish at a certain time.

It's rarely an issue getting the cheapest couple of tiers either, and makes up a (very) little bit for the other overpriced fares.
 

yorkie

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I know of people who will happily pay £30 each way to XC, when £10 Advances have been available on EC/FGW via London, as they want to take the direct train.

Not many people do such a long journey as a day return, so such splits will only help a small number of people, and many of those will simply pay the premium.

Quite frankly XC does not particularly want any extra custom and is trying to put people off. They don't want my custom, so I rarely give them my custom!

Pretty certain it'll be a 222.
It will be. It would be pretty big news if it was a HST (and I'd want to know about it!!! ;))
 

wintonian

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I know of people who will happily pay £30 each way to XC, when £10 Advances have been available on EC/FGW via London, as they want to take the direct train.


I think there are 2 issues here, 1 being that a lot of people assume going via London will be more expensive so ask specificly for direct trains/ via Birmingham/ avoiding London etc.

Secondly when I hear people asking how much will it cost to go to Manchester for example, after determining relevent dates & times the clerk then asks which way they wish to travel ie "would you like to go on a direct train or via London" inevitably most people say direct.

Obviously it is different for online bookings but the passengers thought processes are similar i.e. “travelling on a overcrowded Voyager must be the best way to go as it is a direct train and I don't have to faff about with London” or “It will cost significantly more to travel via London and will take a lot longer”,

I don't think a lot of passengers actually want any choice they just want to get from A – B with the least amount of changes meaning this will also be the quickest way.
 

jkdd77

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In this Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/apr/13/rip-off-britain-everything-expensive

XC's head of communications wrongly claims that if passengers buy split tickets, and their A -> B train is delayed, then their B -> C ticket becomes invalid.

RG: If you choose to buy multiple tickets for a simple journey, you may find it's considerably cheaper. But you're not getting the guarantee of the service all the way through. If your train from A to B was delayed, and you missed the train from B to C, you'd have to buy a new ticket.
Mods' note: to discuss this matter please use the thread: Guardian article: XC's Head of Communications gives out incorrect information
 
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wintonian

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Well I think this just about sums up XC's attitude and contempt of customers:

GW: Do you think CrossCountry should be transparent about the fact they can't control all of their ticket prices?

RG: I don't think it would be useful for customers to put a section on our website to explain how the fare system works. I think it's providing a level of complication.
 

Failed Unit

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I don't think travel via London is always longer, even with the tube journey. Bieng an ECML user all my life it was always quicker to go via London often by as much as 1 hour if heading to the South West or journeys such as Newcastle - Oxford or Bournemouth.

Previously the cost or the direct train I would be on XC, now I don't even look and just book the East Coast and other operators legs as soon as I can. I have also got stung by the late release of XC fares, found the expensive and the cheap east cost / great western combo has gone since.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
They don't even always undercut - I've seen them priced at more than the walk up single
I have for them and other operators - catch out the unweary how always think advanced = cheapest!
 

timstours

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thanks to cross countrys 09-30 ban on cheap tickets ,thats my long distance days out gone for good (except sats) ,i like to set out early if im going north from swindon to make the most of the time
i hope their trains are now empty before 09-30 serves them right !!.
 

Eng274

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I don't think travel via London is always longer, even with the tube journey.
I concur. On a recent trip to the west country I found it cheaper, and only marginally longer in time, to go via EC and FGW than get a direct service from Edinburgh on XC. In fact, the break of journey in London is welcome, compared to spending what seems like a lifetime shoehorned in the same seat on a Voyager.

I also learned a lot about XC's fares setup, in future I will consider breaking my journey with multiple tickets as per the journo's example (where there is no realistic EC/WC alternative).
 
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