Fares reform consultation - which option are you most in favour of? (poll)

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by ForTheLoveOf, 6 Jun 2018.

Which option are you most in favour of?

Poll closed 20 Jun 2018.
  1. Option A - narrower range of possible prices than now

    19 vote(s)
    23.5%
  2. Option B - same range of possible prices as now

    53 vote(s)
    65.4%
  3. Option C - wider range of possible prices than now

    9 vote(s)
    11.1%
  1. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    In the RDG's recent fares reform consultation, they are asking questions such as the kind of approach which fares reform should take. One of their questions is which of the following options you prefer:


    Option A
    No discounted tickets, standard ticket price lower than now
    • The cost of a single fare between any two stations will always cost the same amount.
    • There will be no difference in price between travelling at busy times (peak) and less busy times (off-peak).
    This may mean:
    • There will be lower fares than now on busy services.
    • There will be higher fares than now on less busy services.
    • Trains are likely to be busier than now in the peak period.

    Option B
    Discounted fares same as now, standard ticket price same as now
    • On some routes, the cost of a single fare between any two stations will vary, in the same way as now.
    • There will be cheaper tickets available at less busy times (off-peak) on routes where this is currently offered.
    • There will be discounts for booking a ticket for specific trains in advance on routes where this is currently offered.
    This may mean:
    • Fares will be similar to now on busy services.
    • Fares will be similar to now on less busy services.
    • Trains are likely to carry the same number of passengers as now.

    Option C
    Greater discounts than now, standard ticket price higher than now
    • On some routes, the cost of a single fare between any two stations will vary, in the same way as now.
    • The difference in the cost of a single fare between any two stations at busy times (peak) and less busy times (off-peak) will be greater than it is now.
    • Discounts for booking specific trains in advance will be greater than now but fully flexible fares will cost more.
    This may mean:
    • There will be higher fares than now on busy services.
    • There will be lower fares than now on less busy services.
    • Trains are likely to be less busy than now in the peak period.

    Given the above, which option would you be most in favour of? I know they're asking exactly this question in the consultation, but I'd be interested to see what members of this forum think. They are essentially asking whether the range of possible prices passengers pay for a journey (from the cheapest Advance to the dearest Anytime) should be smaller (option A), stay the same (option B) or increase (option C).

    Opinions and votes please!
     
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  3. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    Based on those options, (B) is the only sensible one.

    (A) would be welcomed by commuters (assuming season ticket prices also fall), except for the increase in overcrowding, but would completely decimate "off-peak" and weekend leisure travel, which is extremely price sensitive. It would likely lead to a reduction in off-peak/weekend services (due to loss of demand) and the price cuts to peak travel would be unlikely to be significant or lasting if it is to be "revenue neutral" (note that doesn't mean per-passenger-revenue-neutral; if the policy results in fewer passengers, all of them could pay more).

    (B) is no change from now.

    (C) just sounds like an increase in peak fares for the most part... Which would likely push commuters onto other modes of transport, resulting in the same problem as (A) if it's trying to be "revenue neutral", the off-peak/advance fare reductions won't be all that significant.
     
  4. Nick66

    Nick66 Member

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    Agree with the above. The current system isn’t perfect but the alternatives offered are no improvements IMHO. Others may have other opinions depending on their circumstances but the current situation is the best for anyone with a mix of commuter and leisure travel. You can’t please all the people all the time...
     
  5. superalbs

    superalbs Established Member

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    I selected B.

    I'd rather they didn't touch it to be fare (haha). You can guarantee that any fares reform will result in EVERYONE paying more.
     
  6. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I agree, and it seems like they are pushing for "no major change but a few tweaks", which is sad. I do think we need big change, but neither A nor C is the correct answer; both would, for different reasons, be very damaging.
     
  7. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    For the same reasons I have voted for 'B'. However what is really needed is a complete rework of the ticketing & revenue modelling, not just trying to shift some cheaper fares one way or the other. As a regular business user of trains, I have to often travel peak periods and shifting more expensive pricing modelling onto these to try to reduce over-crowding will largely result in business travel costing more, and the cost simply being passed onto the customer, or in my case the tax paying public! I honestly think TOCs need to start looking at the kind of modelling used in the airline industry, and being able to offer more in the way of basic, low(er) cost seating with all the thrills added on top to generate extra revenue. Either that or ditch the franchising model as it is completely, and instead DfT or devolved bodies contract TOCs to run services and have a single ticket revenue body setting & collecting fares.
     
  8. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'm not sure how much more basic you'd want to make Standard? It's generally on a par with your easyJets and your Ryanairs.

    And you can't make refreshment sales work on the same model as airlines (free staff as they have to be there anyway for safety) unless you get the guard flogging Kit-Kats and cups of tea - can you *imagine* that happening?
     
  9. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    For many journeys priced by proactive train companies b) is clearly the best approach, and removing options is not going to be good for customers. For example, it would be totally unacceptable if we were told we could only have Off Peak and Anytime on the East Coast Mainline, when clearly the current model of having Super Off Peak fares helps to spread demand in a superior way to that done on the West Coast Mainline.

    I voted c) purely because I am aware of numerous other journeys where there are insufficient options, and so the range of options should increase for those journeys, not that I necessarily want additional options in all cases, but I do where appropriate. I am also keen to counterbalance those who voted for option a), because that would clearly lead to some passengers paying more, which is totally unacceptable.
     
  10. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    Maybe not on local services, but for longer distances TOCs could maybe split up First Class into a Premium (higher priced than First) & Business (between First & Standard) for example, to try and maximise capacity usage rather than having seats carrying lots of empty space (where it exists). As for standard on longer journeys, the model could be used increase on-board services, for example paid-for at seat catering, on-board entertainment packages via WiFi, maybe even lounge use at the start of the journey where available. This might help keep the basic price per seat / ticket lower, whilst allowing & even encouraging add-ons to generate extra revenue. Its not necessarily a race to the bottom, rather than stabilising prices whilst offering extras that passengers might like.
     
  11. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    You favour the abolition of walk-up off peak fares and further swingeing increases to Anytime fares making them completely unaffordable, and a consquential total loss of the walk-up long-distance railway, which is clearly implicit in option C?

    I'm flabbergasted.
     
  12. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I am very split as to what the best option is, personally. Part of me agrees that it's unfair that, if you have to make a 'distess purchase' shortly before travel, you usually have to stump up much more than someone who booked the same journey a few months earlier, even if you are willing to accept the same lack of flexibility. But I wouldn't expect an airline to offer cheap tickets a few hours before departure.

    I suppose the question really being asked is - should the rail network be priced like an airline, where revenue is maximised and subsidy thus minimised, or should it be priced like buses or other public transport, where it's a social good where revenue doesn't matter as much. Personally, I lean towards separating out different routes into each of these categories - for example, rural routes, and those to/from/between deprived areas are perhaps more likely to present a social benefit. But intercity journeys from London to Manchester/Leeds/Bristol etc. are more likely to have business travellers and commuters, who can afford to pay more.

    Perhaps there should be just one price for 'socially beneficial' services and multiple tiers, or perhaps only Advances, for the other services. Who knows, personally I don't feel any option is particularly attractive - a much, much greater rail subsidy is really what's needed!
     
  13. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    They actually often do - the price on the likes of easyJet has more to do with projected demand than advance purchase period. I have purchased tickets on easyJet quite near the date of travel for quite cheap. And I've paid Ryanair £200 months in advance.

    The problem with that is that it would need us to restructure our services to be more like Germany, where people do not need to use IC trains for local journeys. This would require a reduction in IC frequencies and an increase in local frequencies to compensate. Then you could be a bit more like the French or Polish - highly subsidised, walk-up only local stopping services and compulsory reservations and airline style fully yield managed pricing on ICs with no cross validity.
     
  14. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Indeed, I think the only thing people can agree on is that the current approach is not ideal. It may, nevertheless, be the 'least bad' (a bit like democracy!).
     
  15. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    I'm strongly inclined to vote for option A. I know it'd result in peak-time chaos, but I really can't stand Advance fares, and that's the only option that doesn't involve them.

    (In an ideal world I'd choose option B with no advances and sensibly priced off-peak singles. Well, in a truly ideal world I'd be looking at a complete rethink of the whole system…)
     
  16. cav1975

    cav1975 Member

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    Option A would result in me driving significantly more than tpday to the edge of the Oyster area as the deeply discounted off peak day return tickets available here would go up by up to 100%.

    On the face of it B looks reasonable, but the way it is used should change. For example it is ludicrous to have a high frequency timetable like Euston to Birminham and then remove the flexibility by "forcing" people to use highly restricted advance fares.

    So I have voted for C but with the hope that the walk up fares can come down to sensible levels
     
  17. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Option A would increase overcrowding at peak times, especially in the former Network South East area as there won't be any price benefits to travelling "off-peak", where also thanks to the high prices any leisure travel during the off-peak period or weekends will collapse, with those passengers using their private transport either all the way or part of the way. For those operators with evening peak restrictions, it might spread the load from the existing "first off-peak" crush on some services.

    Besides if there is a "one price for all time" system, chances are it will be closer to the current anytime prices than the off-peak prices, the only winners will be those commuters who already have discounted season tickets, or those travelling on business who claims the money back.

    Option C will most likely lead to a "super peak" style of pricing where those departures in the busiest time of the day will be hiked, so it will be even more like a cliff-edge for demand with some token "super off-peak" services at the start/end of the day. You can picture it at Euston where in the evenings it will generally be 14:30 - 16:30 'peak', 16:30 - 18:30 'Super Peak', 18:30 - 19:30 'peak', 19:30 -> 2nd last train 'off-peak', last train - 'peak'. The only winners will be those commuters on season tickets, and the odd lucky person who can book the very limited number of cheap seats on the super-peak departures.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2018
  18. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I still think C would lead to "Advances for everything" and the only walk-up being Anytime at a super-prohibitive price. I'm thinking something like £250 Manchester to London *single*.

    One reason I think this is the savings on retail - cinemas have managed to reduce their staffing cost by doing seat allocations which mean that even though prices aren't yield managed people book early online to get a good seat at a busy performance, meaning they no longer need a long queue at a ticket desk and 4-5 staff to sell. And very few people buy flights at the airport. If it was "Advances for everything" (including on the day) and those weren't available at the station, that could mean massive cost savings by removing ticket offices and reducing TVM numbers.
     
  19. Nick66

    Nick66 Member

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    Not sure how option A would reduce peak time overcrowding, surely that would remove the incentive to travel off-peak. Interesting to see the comparison with other countries, I am familiar with the German and French systems but the set-up is somewhat different to that in the UK. Or maybe we need to copy one of those systems? Discuss!
     
  20. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    All three are absolute tosh. They are very "clever" options.

    What the industry need is wholesale and structural changes to the fares system, not more tinkering.

    I'm not really surprised by the voting results. If the options were between "more tinkering" and "leave well alone", then understandably people prefer the devil they know.
     
  21. Adsy125

    Adsy125 Member

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    Sadly I suspect they may aim to remove regulated fares as part of ''reform" even if it continues to be option B, as this would leave RDG/TOCs free to price every flow as they wish and remove any anomylies as they please. As someone who relies on one of these fares I'm obviously against this!
     
  22. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    It's like that recent consultation on Penalty Fares. The questions all focussed on one thing, but they used it as an opportunity to sneak through enormous deregulation that had formed no part of the consultation and which seemed largely to be to the detriment of honest passengers falsely accused.

    The real questions aren't even touched upon here: How to reform fares such that ticket revenue allocation reflects more fairly and accurately the operators really carrying the passengers (goodbye ORCATS) without this being to the detriment of the passenger (e.g. eliminating any existing journey flexibility); How to avoid further avoidable loss of revenue as split tickets are being used increasingly to bypass peak fares; and how to make any changes in a way that every TOC can support i.e. so each believes it will receive more revenue than it does today. (Don't believe clever talk about average fares - if changes lead to some TOCs winning and others losing, the losing TOCs will block the changes! And good luck thinking up something revenue neutral to every TOC separately!)
     
    Last edited: 8 Jun 2018
  23. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    Another way of looking at this is like those surveys charities do, where the primary goal is to educate through the act of completing the survey. (They could have left in the final questions, asking which TOC is most in need of extra resources - VTEC? GTR? Northern? - and what your donation to it will be!)
     
    Last edited: 8 Jun 2018
  24. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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    Option B, as said current system isn't perfect but best what we have.

    Option A is a no no, there can be a wide disparity between peak & off peak fares especially on routes to/from London, from my area to London walk on fares are, £318 anytime return , & £86.90 off peak return, how would you work those fares so they're the same all day & that's without discounted tickets & will put many people off from going by train

    Option C is far too confusing even for me.
     
  25. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'm overall more in favour of regulating a fares basket - that would, for example, have prevented the ridiculous increases to long distance Anytime fares. But there would also have to be control of other things such as how restricted off-peaks can be.

    Having said that, none of LNR's long distance walk up fares are regulated, and they are all very reasonable.
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The German system is very similar to ours other than the lack of off peak walk-ups and the differential between IC and regional. That said, the latter does exist in some places e.g. London-Birmingham by way of TOC specific fares.
     
  27. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    Personally, I'd think a system similar to what's seen in some continental countries might work better. Rather than our system where the "basic" ticket is valid on any train and there are discounts for taking slower trains or being constrained to particular services, have it work the other way around; significantly cheaper "basic" walk-up tickets are only valid on slower local/regional services and paid reservations required for faster services (but available at very short notice as with the "advance purchase on the day system", but available from ticket offices and TVMs not just apps; which is an utterly stupid restriction currently).

    This means that the "basic" fare can be simply peak/off-peak and it means that long-distance tickets become "semi-flexible"; passengers who miss the reserved train (or wish to change their plans) have the option of buying a reservation for the next available train (even with the "loss" of the original reservation fee, this should be significantly less than buying an entire new ticket) or just using slower services. It also fixes problems such as Delay Repay only ever refunding one "leg" of a "return" journey on Advance tickets (since they're alway singles) where the full return fare can be refunded for walk-ups; in severe delays they'd refund the full return fare and the cost of the reservation for the delayed service.

    As long as the timetables and station/on-train annoucements clearly state which trains require reservations it shouldn't be too difficult for passengers to deal with. Thre could even be the possibility of buying a reservation on-board without penalty; since they'd only be required on long-distance services the possibility of "reservation dodging" should be reduced.
     
  28. Harpers Tate

    Harpers Tate Established Member

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    If it were not for the TOCs' practices when it comes to people who are incorrectly ticketed (eg with penalty fares, difficult or impossible to pay-up the difference, invalid ticket counted as if no ticket and so on) then I'd support B. It is precisely because they do behave like this, seemingly looking for any opportunity to "fine" (in the broadest sense) their customers, that I'd have to opt for A; simpler means less possibility of accidentally falling foul of practices that in some cases fall hardly short of extortion.
     
  29. BigCj34

    BigCj34 Member

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    It would be difficult to see TOC's supporting an end to split ticketing and in place a simple fare that is the same price, as long as they can make money from people overpaying for tickets that could otherwise be split. If everyone used split tickets then they would almost certainly make less money.

    The real losers in a revenue neutral model would be those who do know the system as most loopholes will disappear; the only way I could support a revenue neutral reform is if it meant more people used the railway because of overall cheaper ticket prices, though that of course can mean additional overcrowding on certain services. It is not too dissimilar a form of logic with railcards, TOC's might make less money from a ticket but a railcard holder may make more journeys (although they do get a share of the initial £30 cost).
     
  30. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That is exactly the kind of "out of the box" thinking I had in mind. There is a lot of merit in this idea. Top marks for creativity.
     
  31. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    I find myself unable to vote for any of the options on offer. Option A is a black-and-white approach but the needs of commuters around London are nothing like the same as those on the Cumbrian Coast. Option B smacks of do as little as possible but still claim to have made improvements. Option C looks the first step down the slippery slope that leads to the end of the walk-up railway for anything other than local journeys. The problem is really difficult to deal with as ideally "if I were you I wouldn't be starting from here!" I suspect the only way to fully restore public confidence in how fares are created would be to take that task away from the TOCs except for advances and even these should be subject to some controls to prevent price dumping. A future Labour government might be up for this when they realise that nationalisation would either be very expensive to achieve or else take so long that it doesn't actually happen. But the current government certainly won't be interested. Ultimately I believe our network is becoming so crowded that it really needs significantly more investment in additional capacity; tinkering with fares is just skirting around that issue.
     

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