Do people Fully use Anytime Returns?

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ainsworth74

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As I was out walking the dog in the glorious sunshine this afternoon a thought occurred, an Anytime Return is normally a very expensive ticket (let's take the London Terminals to Edinburgh SOR at £304 as an example from here on out) but then think about what you actually get for that money. You can travel at any time you like and on the outward leg break your journey as many times as you like across five days then return any time within a month again breaking your journey as much as you like (feel like stopping off in Newcastle for two weeks to visit family/friends? No problem! Stop again in York for another week? Why not!). But not only that there are a wide variety of routes you can use such as WCML all the way or perhaps Euston - Manchester - Settle - Carlisle - Edinburgh or St Pancras - Sheffield - Leeds - York - Edinburgh and many others.

So for that price when you look at what you get it's not actually that bad £304 and your buying yourself a heck of a lot of flexibility. But my question is this, how many people actually use all of that flexibility they're paying for? My guess is not many, I would guess that most people buying this ticket would take a direct train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh then return a couple of days later again taking a direct train back to Kings Cross. Not using any of the break of journey rights or any of the other routings that are available.

So my thinking is this, what about introducing a new ticket in a price band below that of the SOR? I'm thinking a ticket that has a restriction on the route (EC Only), restricts you to travelling outwards in one day (but doesn't restrict break of journey on that day) and whilst you can return at any time within a month once you start the return again you have to finish in one day (but again no restriction on break of journey on that day). So a much more restrictive ticket than the existing SOR but you could price it at a lower level to compensate (and it's still valid at anytime). You could also introduce a similar ticket for SVRs and SSRs.

Now I'm aware that this would be a nightmare to implement within the existing fare structure so I'm less interested in that side of things and more if firstly people agree with me that the flexibility of Anytime Returns is chronically under used (so people aren't getting value for money) and then secondly if that introducing a new product along the lines I've suggested above would actually fill a gap in the market (for something cheaper than a SOR but keeps it's anytime properties).

So what do people think? Some merit to my thoughts or has my mind be addled by the midday sun ;)
 
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AlterEgo

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One question:

You mention quite correctly that the vast majority of people do not use the BoJ allowances, or alternative routes, and so on. They mainly travel out in one straight journey, and straight back again.

What is the incentive of the railway to make the journey cheaper? This would lose millions in revenue.
 

Skymonster

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I'm sure those passengers who do buy SORs just to go from A to B and back to A would appreciate the price reduction... But what incentive is there for the industry to sell such a ticket, if the main market for it would be passengers trading down from a more expensive SOR? I suspect most people who buy SORs do so because they decide to travel last minute or at peak times when there's no offpeak or advance tickets available - providing a lower priced SOR would just reduce revenue take from these passengers.

Andy
 

ainsworth74

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What is the incentive of the railway to make the journey cheaper? This would lose millions in revenue.
I'm sure those passengers who do buy SORs just to go from A to B and back to A would appreciate the price reduction... But what incentive is there for the industry to sell such a ticket, if the main market for it would be passengers trading down from a more expensive SOR?
I agree and that's probably the main problem with this thought but I'm coming at this from the passenger point of view so the TOCs revenue isn't really my main concern. But it's certainly why an idea like this wouldn't get much traction (unless you made this ticket the same as an existing SOR and made what is currently a SOR an even more expensive ticket which would be the worst outcome).

But I take you'd agree that if such a product were to be offered it would be a closer fit to passenger demands?

How many rail journeys do you think are broken at all?
I'd gamble that it's not many at all. Then again how many people are fully aware of what they're allowed to do with the ticket they're buying?
 

LexyBoy

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The flexibility of there tickets isn't what you're paying for, you're paying for travel from A to B. You've not lost anything for not using the added benefits.

I think far too many people are unaware of how flexible most tickets in fact are - although the industry seems more interested in promoting cheap end to end fares rather than making rail an attractive flexible option to compete with driving.
 

calc7

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I was going to post a similar thread a week or so ago, but didn't get round to it.

One of my main questions is: how many buisness users buying a SOR actually travel both ways in the peak? Especially if you are travelling out of London, with no inbound peak restriction after the morning.

I agree that some sort of demand management through a different price tier could be looked at on some of the major IC routes.
 

Greenback

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My former employers used Anytime Return tickets all the time. They did not want people hanging around in London waiting for off peak trains, and as it was never clear how long meetings, conferences and events might drag on for, they did have a point in that respect.

I think the real reason, however, was that no one in the organisation really understood rail pricing. They certainly had no interest when I offered to help them reduce their expenditure!
 

Skymonster

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When I had a SOR Nottingham-Luton Airport Parkway the other week, the barriers at Luton (main station) wouldn't open with the ticket and I had to argue with FGW gate line staff to be allowed to break at Luton... If the industry can't make SORs work to the rules, what chance do most passengers have of exploiting those tickets fully?

That is the only time in 15 years I've broken on a SOR... So yes, if there was a time-flexible ticket that didn't allow breaks and was cheaper, of almost certainly use it.

Andy
 

cuccir

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I had no idea breaking of journey was permitted until I found this website - I would never have suspected that it would be allowed, so would never have asked about it!
 

WelshBluebird

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As already hinted at in this thread, I would suggest that a lot of people simply are not aware of how much they can break their journey on some tickets.

I often travel from home to university. I often stop off in Cardiff on the way, either to watch football, or to see my girlfriend. When I started, I used to just get a ticket to Cardiff, and then a ticket to Bath. I didn't realise I could get a ticket from home to Bath, and use it to stop off in Cardiff. Well, I realised I could stop off in Cardiff. But I did not know I could stay overnight and such.
 

Clip

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Most people do not want to break their journeys anyway I should imagine so the concept of introducing a differently priced ticket to do so is rather silly IMO.

Most just want to get from A-B.
 

cuccir

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Re the OP: These tickets do exist to some extent.

I just looked up the London-Edinburgh journey on the East Coast website. As well as the £304 fully flexible Anytime Return, there's also:

* The book-in-advance 'Scottish Executive Package' at £199.25. This appears to valid on all East Coast services, includes "complimentary upgrade to First Class", free food (no idea how they do this if first class is full) and includes a Zones 1-2 underground ticket.

* There is then the even more confusingly named 'EC Off Peak Return', which becomes the 'Anglo -Scot Off Peak' on National Rail Enquiries. This is £241.50 and has the validity code 1W. This is the ticket you describe - an Anytime Return but with no BoJ. Despite being called an 'EC Off Peak-Return' on the East Coast website, it appears to be valid on all routes.

Now, these aren't standard and London to Edinburgh is clearly a high profile route which is rare for having genuine competition between two mainline routes. The point is, though, the TOCs will bring these tickets in if there is commercial call and they will be quite happy to ignore any 'simplification' of ticket naming in the process!
 

Mutant Lemming

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It has been raised before how useful certain anytime returns could be. The London to Ludlow one has quite a few permutations involving travel from Paddington, Marylebone or Euston travelling via Newport, Oxford, Worcester, Hereford, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Crewe and Stafford.
 
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