Fares via Halton Curve

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by M28361M, 8 Apr 2019.

  1. M28361M

    M28361M Member

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    (There is already a long Halton Curve thread in the Infrastructure & Stations subforum, however my post relates specifically to fares and ticketing rather than the infrastructure, so I hope starting a new thread here is OK)

    I found an article on Cheshire Live about the new Transport for Wales (TFW) Liverpool-Chester service via the Halton Curve, which starts on 19th May. I won't quote the whole thing because it doesn't really say anything new, except for this bit about the fares:

    Interestingly, this claim doesn't seem to match what the ticket websites are currently offering. Looking on TFW Rail's booking engine for 19 May, it quotes £11.50 as the best price for a single Chester-Liverpool via the curve.

    Assuming the article is correct, I guess these new, cheaper fares will be added at the next fares update in May, before the new service starts?

    Secondly, I've been playing around, seeing what the best journey times will be for a trip to North Wales from my nearest "big" station, Liverpool South Parkway. However I cannot seem to convince any booking engines to route me via the Halton Curve.

    Example: on TFWrail.wales, I searched Liverpool South Parkway to Llandudno Junction, departing 19 May at 09:30. All the journeys offered put me on Merseyrail via Liverpool Central and Birkenhead. If I put in Helsby as a via point to force a routing via the curve, I get "no journeys available". Similar results on GWR and Southern's websites. The National Rail journey planner will give times via Helsby but insists I need to split tickets. This despite the fact that going via Helsby is about 20 minutes faster.

    My guess is the existence of the Halton Curve is not reflected in the routeing data yet? If so, what is the likelihood of this being fixed before May 19th? Would be sad if the new journey opportunities on the Curve are limited by problems with ticket booking.
     
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  3. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    I think there are two aspects to this.

    The Routeing Guide currently lists just one map for travel between Chester and Liverpool, CH. This only gives a mapped route via Hooton. There are no relevant easements that I can find.

    The current fares offered, as listed by BRfares.com, are (adult single):
    £11.30 via Warrington (fare set by TfW)
    £7.50 via Birkenhead (Merseyrail)
    £11.50 Any Permitted (TfW)
    So the existence of a 'via Warrington' ticket adds that route to those considered by the ticket websites.

    The existence of a direct train (or trains following the shortest route) from Chester to Liverpool via the Halton Curve makes that route available (with the Any Permitted ticket) even if the routeing guide doesn't have a map for it. However, by the rules of the routeing guide, you can only go that way on a direct train. The direct (Halton) service terminates at Chester and you'd have to change train to get to Llandudno Junction, so it's no longer a direct train journey, hence the ticket websites can't offer you a single ticket for travelling that way.

    In summary: it doesn't look like the new fare for travelling via the Halton Curve has been added to the fares database yet (certainly not the BRfares site). When fares via the Halton Curve are introduced, ticket websites should offer travel via Helsby without insisting on splitting tickets. That should be done before May 19th. There may or may not be changes to the routeing guide too. (Remember that there have been services along the Halton curve for years, it's just that they've been limited to a dozen or so per year.)
     
  4. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    They certainly will need to cut the fare via the Halton Curve to the same as or cheaper than via Hooton - while Merseyrail is really quite slow, you do have 4tph, which offsets the quicker journey as it's not quicker if you have to wait 45 minutes extra for it because the timetable doesn't fit your plans.

    That said, I think the main long-term use case isn't people going to Chester (who will continue to use Merseyrail) but people going through onto the North Wales Coast, possibly with holiday luggage making them less willing to change. That said, such people coming from the Northern Line rather than by taxi/bus from nearer Lime St will probably still find Merseyrail easier.

    It will be interesting to see how it pans out.
     
  5. nedchester

    nedchester Established Member

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    I think the main benefit is for those from Helsby and Frodsham going to Liverpool South Parkway (for the Airport) and Liverpool, a service they've not had before.

    Especially now that there is a toll on the bridges at Runcorn for drivers.
     
  6. kieron

    kieron Established Member

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    TfW may be able to ask a small premium as their trains have onboard toilets and seat reservations, and it uses a ground level platform at the Liverpool end.

    Choosing fares will be a little awkward as the Merseyrail Chester-Liverpool fare is cheaper than some of what will be intermediate fares for the route. They can do quite a bit with "TfW only" fares, but that doesn't help with something like Chester-Frodsham.

    I just hope that the route doesn't end up like the Todmorden Curve, where no map combination use the route, and so even straightforward journeys such as Accrington-Stalybridge aren't valid that way.
     
  7. janb

    janb Member

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    When the future fares go live 4 weeks before the fares change date you should start seeing them in online journey planners.
    Via Runcorn
    SDS £5.90
    CDR £6 (restriction code AW)
    SDR £7.50
     
  8. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Are those end to end, Chester to Liverpool Lime Street fares? If so, those are really quite competitive with the existing fares via Birkenhead, let alone via Warrington which is ludicrously expensive. Will there be a new season ticket route via Runcorn, and if so, how much will that be?
     
  9. alistairlees

    alistairlees Member

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    Yes they are
     
  10. janb

    janb Member

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    Yes that's Chester to Liverpool. No info on season tickets yet.
     
  11. theshillito

    theshillito Member

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    Chester to Lime Street is quicker with Merseyrail than on TfW according to RTT and National Rail. Until the through trains start, I can't see many people doing that train end-to-end.
     
  12. Tom Maddox

    Tom Maddox Member

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    Definitely. A direct to service into Liverpool will be really handy, plus the link to Runcorn.
     
  13. M28361M

    M28361M Member

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    Thanks for this info. The SDR and SDS are cheaper than the "via Birkenhead" fare (£7.80/£7.50). The CDR is more expensive than the Merseyrail Day Saver (£5.30) and has an evening peak restriction which Merseyrail doesn't. So competitive for peak travel, not so much for offpeak (assuming Merseyrail don't adjust their own fares at the same time).
     
  14. frodshamfella

    frodshamfella Member

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    I will use it for the airport and city centre.
     
  15. Sandfield

    Sandfield Member

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    Merseytravel free passes are available between Hooton and Chester. Unless there is to be a similar arrangement on the Runcorn line, it is unlikely many passengers with free passes will switch to the new service.
     
  16. M28361M

    M28361M Member

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    The "Via Runcorn" fares are now showing in journey planners. Annoyingly they only seem to exist for stations where the direct service calls, so there is a Liverpool South Parkway to Frodsham fare, but not (for example) Cressington to Frodsham via Runcorn.
     
  17. kieron

    kieron Established Member

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    Cressington-Frodsham is pretty straightforward. You just buy a Liverpool-Frodsham one and start short at Cressington. It's not TfW only, or anything like that. There are other routes where you couldn't do this, though.

    Personally, I'm a little disappointed that there isn't a new Runcorn East-Runcorn ticket. It will be a lot more convenient under the new timetable than it is now, but there still won't be any through tickets to take advantage of this.
     
  18. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Presumably the route is included automatically in the Cheshire Day Ranger and Freedom of the North West Rovers?
    I'll be using the former on something close to Day 1.
     
  19. M28361M

    M28361M Member

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    The Cheshire Day Ranger map on the National Rail website doesn't show the curve itself but all the stations on the route are there, so I assume it will be accepted.

    The North West Rover map is more interesting. The line from Chester to Warrington is there, but not the line through Runcorn (main) - if travelling from Liverpool towards Crewe you seemingly cannot go south of Liverpool South Parkway. So I would say the bit between Frodsham and Liverpool South Parkway is not covered, unless there's an update to the Rover validity that hasn't been put online - the NRE site is notorious for having out of date info on Rovers.

    Of course. My concern is that a casual traveller might not know this and either pay over the odds or be put off travelling. (Not that Cressington to Frodsham is going to be a major flow, I was just using that as the first example I found)
     
  20. lyndhurst25

    lyndhurst25 Member

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    My local station is a Waterloo (Merseyside). The journey time to Chester on Sundays is now 10 minutes quicker, changing at Liverpool South Parkway and using the new Halton Curve service, rather than MerseyRail all the way via Birkenhead. However, National Rail Enquiries is telling me that no through ticket is available and I'll have to buy multiple tickets to take the quickest route. I hope that they fix this, otherwise it's a total shambles.
     
  21. M28361M

    M28361M Member

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    Presumably this is the same problem krus_aragon mentioned in post #2 - there is no mapped route via the Halton Curve so it is only valid on direct trains or if it is the shortest distance route, neither of which apply here. Even if booking engines say no, I would hope that if you bought the ticket from a ticket office, the staff on the ground would apply a bit of common sense and allow travel via the Halton Curve.

    Assuming this isn't fixed before 19 May, is there a way for us ordinary members of the public to request a change to the Routing Guide, or would it have to go through the TOC?
     
  22. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Well, one could invoke the mythical "Disputed Routeing Procedure", although it isn't strictly speaking designed for routes that didn't even exist at the time of the creation of the Routeing Guide!
     
  23. kieron

    kieron Established Member

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    Just to confirm, the version on the Northern site is the same. The rover doesn't cover all that much of Cheshire, so who knows whether they'll want to include this bit?
    It's certainly one of the things TfW could do, but haven't done yet.
     
  24. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    That's because the Rover map specifically excludes routes via Crewe, for some very odd reason - I'm sure it was included long ago.
    But it does include Chester-Northwich-Stockport-Manchester, and the Chester-Liverpool line is completely within that boundary.
     
  25. scrapy

    scrapy Member

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    I don't think you can determine that a rover is valid on a route just because other routes are valid around it. It clearly isn't currently valid to Runcorn even though it's valid via Northwich. Whether or not it will be valid on the new TFW services isn't clear but I would suggest contacting them direct.
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It did exist, just once a week in one direction in summer only.
     

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