Differing Fares Across the UK

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Generic User

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Hello All,

I'm a new kid on the block so please forgive me if I'm posting in the wrong sub forum.

Basically, having recently returned from a holiday in the South West (Cornwall) where I made extensive use of Great Western Railway's services along the Cornish mainline and, of course, the picturesque St Ives Bay Line, I couldn't help but notice that fares were significantly cheaper down there than they are up in my area, the North East of England.

Being 15 years old I obviously benefitted from a reduction anyway, but even then I'd be hard pressed to find as good value tickets back home.

So I wondered why the South West offered cheaper rail fares than where I'm from - I have been told it is to do with subsidies but I'd appreciate it if someone could elaborate on that. And I also know that Devon and Cornwall has its own railcard.

Thanks,
Joseph
 
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dave87016

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Not sure why myself but as someone who holidays once a year sometimes twice for 8 nights based in Paignton I find fares far cheaper down there than the North West the Freedom Of South West Rover offers even better value especially for my spotting
 

mikeg

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It is quite possibly to do with the old 'fares basket' / 'flex' provision in fares regulation, since abolished. TOCs were given a RPI +- x% figure they could vary regulated fares by, but they could deviate from it by up to 5%, provided they balanced it out with a reduction/reduced fare increase elsewhere. This was only very lightly weighted so the TOCs could game the system: Increase popular key commuter flows such as Swindon to London Terminals and increase Cornish flows by much less to offset this.

I have read in various magazines that's just what FGW did, leading to below inflation increases in Devon and Cornwall provincial fares and inflation-busting increases in key Great Western commuter fares to London.

At least that accounts for the Great Western franchise, or any increases/real terms decreases in a franchise area that has remained roughly the same. For differences between franchises you'd have to look at the fact that a given route may previously have been part of a different franchise area, or even that it may have been considered a 'premium route' since British Rail days. Also that on rare occasions a TOC may not have increased fares by the maximum amount overall, whereas another may, but usually they increase fares by as much as they can get away with.
 
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Shaw S Hunter

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There was also a genuine effort by FGW to increase local usage, particularly on the Cornish branches, which saw some worthwhile service improvements as well as some good fare deals. Remember that when the loop was installed at Penryn services on the Falmouth branch were doubled so it was worth encouraging usage by offering good fares. And while less dramatic a similar effort has been made on the Newquay branch, which very much needed it!
 

Generic User

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@dave87016 - Wow! I didn't know about the South West Rover ticket - looks like really good value for money considering the sheer amount of area it enables you to explore.

@mikeg - Ahh thank you very much, that's really interesting. From a business perspective you can certainly see why they'd employ such a strategy, lowering fairs to encourage more rural passengers and then whacking up fares for those who don't have a choice. Very sly indeed, but not a bad deal for the folk in Devon and Cornwall.

@Shaw S Hunter - I did notice that the Cornish branch lines were quite well used when I was down there, particularly the St Ives one with its park and ride. Although the Falmouth one seemed pretty lively too.
 

yorkie

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So I wondered why the South West offered cheaper rail fares than where I'm from ...
I don't know where you are from, so it is difficult to make any comparison, but certainly the fares in Devon and Cornwall are - in general - a lot cheaper than most places (some fares in Scotland and PTE areas can be similarly good value).

This could be because it allowed the train company to increase fares nearer to London under the 'fares basket' system, or it could be due to subsidies, or perhaps a bit of both.

It's certainly good to see a public service being priced at a level that actually makes it usable by much of the public and increases patronage.

Too many fares appear to be priced so high as to deliberately stifle demand, sadly.

Even in areas where fares seem high, all you need is a bit of knowledge and you can travel for a fraction of the cost. To find out how, simply attend one of our fares workshops (which are free).
 

extendedpaul

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The cost of the Ride Cornwall ticket has been pegged at £10 for as long as I can remember which may well be a factor.

I understand there may be a significant increase in the price of this ticket next year so fares may then rise
 

bb21

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Cornish fares were also subsidised by the local councils. Not sure whether they still are, but can help explain in part the below average prices compared to many other areas.
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The cost of the Ride Cornwall ticket has been pegged at £10 for as long as I can remember which may well be a factor.

I understand there may be a significant increase in the price of this ticket next year so fares may then rise

Already increased to £13 this year after many years stagnating at £10.
 

Master29

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I have been told that there is some kind of agreement with landowners in Devon and Cornwall going back to around the Victorian period that still stands today, hence the cheaper fares. Not sure what it is as I have been unable to verify this.
 

Generic User

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I don't know where you are from, so it is difficult to make any comparison

I'm from the North East (Newcastle/Gateshead in particular) so we do have Nexus as our PTE but I don't think they have much impact on national rail - they are involved in the tyne and wear metro of course and will be more so once they take control from DB. But as far as national rail goes, fares between Newcastle and Sunderland seem to be very reasonable and under 16s get heavily discounted travel between the two cities.

I might have to head down to one of those fare workshops - might save me a few quids. Would you believe, I only just discovered ticket splitting!

@master29 - That's an interesting theory, I wonder how it would actually have an impact of fares.
 
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