GWR Advance fares on the North Downs Line

JonathanH

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From the May timetable change, GWR have made all of the trains on the North Downs Line reservable and introduced 'GWR only' advance fares for journeys from Reading to stations beyond Guildford and from stations west of Guildford to Gatwick Airport.

In common with all the other reservable trains on their network, the trains are currently marked as "Reservations Compulsory".

Advance singles from Reading to Dorking Deepdene appear to range from £5.00 to £10.70.
Advance singles from Reading to Reigate appear to range from £13.60 to £39.80. An off-peak day single is £17.60 and an anytime single is £26.00.
Advance singles from Reading to Gatwick Airport appear to range from £8.10 to £27.20

I assume the pricing of the Reading to Reigate flow has gone awry.

There doesn't, at this stage, appear to be any removal of the existing off-peak / anytime walk up fares or a hike in those fares.

However, one issue is that it will be more difficult to get through advance fares from 'West' destinations through to the route if the quotas don't match up - in particular, I guess it will be difficult to get through advance fares onto the last Reading to Gatwick train in the future as quotas tend not to be made available for late night trains pending confirmation of engineering work.
 
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infobleep

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From the May timetable change, GWR have made all of the trains on the North Downs Line reservable and introduced 'GWR only' advance fares for journeys from Reading to stations beyond Guildford and from stations west of Guildford to Gatwick Airport.

In common with all the other reservable trains on their network, the trains are currently marked as "Reservations Compulsory".

Advance singles from Reading to Dorking Deepdene appear to range from £5.00 to £10.70.
Advance singles from Reading to Reigate appear to range from £13.60 to £39.80. An off-peak day single is £17.60 and an anytime single is £26.00.
Advance singles from Reading to Gatwick Airport appear to range from £8.10 to £27.20

I assume the pricing of the Reading to Reigate flow has gone awry.

There doesn't, at this stage, appear to be any removal of the existing off-peak / anytime walk up fares or a hike in those fares.

However, one issue is that it will be more difficult to get through advance fares from 'West' destinations through to the route if the quotas don't match up - in particular, I guess it will be difficult to get through advance fares onto the last Reading to Gatwick train in the future as quotas tend not to be made available for late night trains pending confirmation of engineering work.
Interesting. Shame it doesn't extend beyond Gatwick Airport. Could they not do a GWR [Great Western Railway] and connections fare to places like Haywards Heath and Brighton?
 

JonathanH

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Interesting. Shame it doesn't extend beyond Gatwick Airport. Could they not do a GWR [Great Western Railway] and connections fare to places like Haywards Heath and Brighton?
I don't think that is the point. It seems to be more about blocking through journeys by not releasing quotas. They would presumably need to get agreement with the other operators to do GWR & Connections tickets.

Mind you, for a single journey, it may be cheaper to buy a Guildford to Gatwick Airport advance single and rebook for Gatwick Airport to Haywards Heath.
 

infobleep

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I don't think that is the point. It seems to be more about blocking through journeys by not releasing quotas. They would presumably need to get agreement with the other operators to do GWR & Connections tickets.

Mind you, for a single journey, it may be cheaper to buy a Guildford to Gatwick Airport advance single and rebook for Gatwick Airport to Haywards Heath.
Why would they wish to book through journeys? They had wanted to run an additional fast train an hour, which would increase space for travelling passengers.

Checking travelling to Haywards Heath off-peak period return, it is cheaper if you don't have a discount card. The advanced singles of £5.10+ anytime single from Gatwick Airport to Haywards Heath at £6.40 plus the reverse totals £23. With a third off an off-peak period return is £21.25 Guildford to Haywards Heath via Dorking.

I guess travelling in the peak would make it more viable but only if they actually release £5.10 fares in the peak. It is probably not in their interest to do so if enough people are travelling already.

Also worth noting is if one has a discount card such as a Network South East card and are travelling for the day between Guildford and Gatwick Airport on a weekend, the cheap day return would be cheaper than the advanced singles.

If travelling to the airport for a fright it could work out cheaper but not sure what happens if the fast service is cancelled. Would you have to wait for the next one to Gatwick Airport or could you get a stopper and change at Redhill for a Thameslink branded service?
 

Hadders

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What an absolute farce having trains like these requiring compulsory reservations.
 

Kite159

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What an absolute farce having trains like these requiring compulsory reservations.
Especially for the local stoppers when it will be counted place reservations.

Odds of it being enforced are next to none. But someone using an online booking tool if planning to head to say Gomshall finding the train has "no seats available" and deciding to change plans
 

Non Multi

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Thanks to the O.P. for informing everyone. Significant changes such as this should be posted on the GWR website homepage, not tucked away in a timetable pdf file.
 

JonathanH

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The May 2021 timetable for the North Downs Line says:

Seat reservations on GWR services R (Shown on our Intercity Express Trains, and some long distance regional trains)
When you try and buy a ticket, we will allocate you a seat if one is available. However, if all the seats are already reserved, you won’t be able to buy a ticket online for that service. We leave some space for those with walk-up tickets, or who may have been disrupted. If you buy a ticket on the day of travel, we may allocate you a space instead of a specific seat. Sit in any unreserved seat in your class of travel, social distancing as best you can.

Having played around with the booking engine, it appears that this does not limit the number of walk-on fares available. While the reservation system will require a counted place reservation to be issued with a walk-up fare when booking on line, once the quota is full, walk on fares can still be booked, at least as tested with the 16 first class seats on the train.

However, looking at 17 May, while 'reservations' are allocated to all eastbound services from Reading for walk-up tickets, the allocation / non-allocation of quotas for advance fares is:
Available: 0431, 0530, 0707, 0749, 0920, 1004, 1120, 1201, 1320, 1401, 1518, 1601, 1720, 1750
Not available: 0457, 0554, 0646, 0820, 0910, 1020, 1101, 1220, 1301, 1420, 1501, 1620, 1650, 1820, 1901, 1920, 2001, 2101, 2134, 2334

So, two weeks out, it is no longer possible to book a through advance fare from the West to North Downs line for travel in the late afternoon and this pattern of availability seems to be in place throughout the timetable. No advance quotas have been loaded at all for weekend journeys.
 

FenMan

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No advance quotas have been loaded at all for weekend journeys.
In normal times the Reading-Gatwicks are very well loaded at weekends and of course off peak fares are valid, so it's understandable if advances aren't being offered.
 

JonathanH

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In normal times the Reading-Gatwicks are very well loaded at weekends and of course off peak fares are valid, so it's understandable if advances aren't being offered.
Maybe, but if that was true they wouldn't be offered on other GWR routes as well. Most of the trains I see at the moment passing through Reigate have between 10 and 20 passengers, if that.

It seems a entirely valid concept to use non-availability of advance quotas to manage loadings. Perhaps, as you say, that is the point.
 

FenMan

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However, looking at 17 May, while 'reservations' are allocated to all eastbound services from Reading for walk-up tickets, the allocation / non-allocation of quotas for advance fares is:
Available: 0431, 0530, 0707, 0749, 0920, 1004, 1120, 1201, 1320, 1401, 1518, 1601, 1720, 1750
Not available: 0457, 0554, 0646, 0820, 0910, 1020, 1101, 1220, 1301, 1420, 1501, 1620, 1650, 1820, 1901, 1920, 2001, 2101, 2134, 2334

So, two weeks out, it is no longer possible to book a through advance fare from the West to North Downs line for travel in the late afternoon and this pattern of availability seems to be in place throughout the timetable.

I'm coming back to this, having not fully understood the implications previously.

You're right. There are no advances available in the late afternoon from the West to, for example, Blackwater effective from the new timetable. However there are plenty of advances to Reading on the same trains. Likewise no advances are offered for key morning departures from Blackwater to the west, whereas they are available from Reading.

I'm not sure GWR's intention is to snuff out many of the long distance journey opportunities from NDL stations to and from the west using advance tickets. This looks like the law of unintended consequences has come into play.
 

JonathanH

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I'm not sure GWR's intention is to snuff out many of the long distance journey opportunities from NDL stations to and from the west using advance tickets. This looks like the law of unintended consequences has come into play.
It may not be the intention but it is clearly the reality.

The GWR fares manager clearly has control over which trains do and don't have quotas and will allocate as they see fit to maximise revenue. These things don't just happen as unintended consequences.
 

trainophile

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Should I expect problems with my Freedom of Devon and Cornwall Rover in July? I won't know what my plans for the day are until the last minute and hope to be able to use whatever GWR trains I fancy.
 

Haywain

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Should I expect problems with my Freedom of Devon and Cornwall Rover in July? I won't know what my plans for the day are until the last minute and hope to be able to use whatever GWR trains I fancy.
If you’re using it on the North Downs line, you probably will experience problems!

Edit: can’t add a smiley thing.
 

trainophile

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Lol sorry I realised afterwards that I was not talking about the same thing :oops: . Just assumed if they are demanding reservations on one line it might apply to all of them.
 

infobleep

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The May 2021 timetable for the North Downs Line says:



Having played around with the booking engine, it appears that this does not limit the number of walk-on fares available. While the reservation system will require a counted place reservation to be issued with a walk-up fare when booking on line, once the quota is full, walk on fares can still be booked, at least as tested with the 16 first class seats on the train.

However, looking at 17 May, while 'reservations' are allocated to all eastbound services from Reading for walk-up tickets, the allocation / non-allocation of quotas for advance fares is:
Available: 0431, 0530, 0707, 0749, 0920, 1004, 1120, 1201, 1320, 1401, 1518, 1601, 1720, 1750
Not available: 0457, 0554, 0646, 0820, 0910, 1020, 1101, 1220, 1301, 1420, 1501, 1620, 1650, 1820, 1901, 1920, 2001, 2101, 2134, 2334

So, two weeks out, it is no longer possible to book a through advance fare from the West to North Downs line for travel in the late afternoon and this pattern of availability seems to be in place throughout the timetable. No advance quotas have been loaded at all for weekend journeys.
So is the North Downs Line a longer regional service? It's certainly not Intercity as it's a secondary route that has to stay out of the way of Thameslink, Southern and South Western Railway services, which being more popular are more important.

Also the quote talks of seat reservations rather than counter place reservations.

Looks like more split ticketing is going to be needed by customers if this is the new normal.
 

father_jack

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So is the North Downs Line a longer regional service? It's certainly not Intercity as it's a secondary route that has to stay out of the way of Thameslink, Southern and South Western Railway services, which being more popular are more important.

Also the quote talks of seat reservations rather than counter place reservations.

Looks like more split ticketing is going to be needed by customers if this is the new normal.
On 165/166 seat reservations would need labels and an associated printer as well as process to put the labels out and remove them after/before each journey and none of that exists at Reading AFAIK. I actually installed the final generation of printers for FGW around 2007. There would be spares, say at Swansea or Paddington given they are IET stations now but I'd be surprised if they were moved to Reading or Gatwick given network ports would have to be arranged.
 

infobleep

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On 165/166 seat reservations would need labels and an associated printer as well as process to put the labels out and remove them after/before each journey and none of that exists at Reading AFAIK. I actually installed the final generation of printers for FGW around 2007. There would be spares, say at Swansea or Paddington given they are IET stations now but I'd be surprised if they were moved to Reading or Gatwick given network ports would have to be arranged.
What about the trains going to the line?
 

Starmill

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Turbos do have paper labels put out for reservations on the Cardiff - Portsmouth route.
 

Kite159

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Turbos do have paper labels put out for reservations on the Cardiff - Portsmouth route.

Although seat reservations are suspended for the time being on that route. They even got round to fitting reservation card holders to the tops of the seats & putting seat numbers for when they return
 

infobleep

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Although seat reservations are suspended for the time being on that route. They even got round to fitting reservation card holders to the tops of the seats & putting seat numbers for when they return
Perhaps they could suspend reservations for a time on the North Downs Line. :lol:
 

JonathanH

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Perhaps they could suspend reservations for a time on the North Downs Line. :lol:
I doubt the plans on the North Downs Line will go beyond counted place reservations (which is what is in place on Cardiff to Portsmouth trains).
 

infobleep

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I doubt the plans on the North Downs Line will go beyond counted place reservations (which is what is in place on Cardiff to Portsmouth trains).
Whilst I agree with you, the quote you gave from the May timetable suggests otherwise. That could be a mistake of course.
 

KeithMcC

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The more I read about this and other issues with buying through tickets in various threads, the more I wonder if the rail industry realise how much they are discouraging passengers, or is this a deliberate policy! Certainly if I can't get a decent through fare and decent timings from Guildford to say Bristol then I am far more likely to use the car, particularly as it is usually for business and the mileage payment is much more profitable to me personally than just reclaiming the train fare. Some ticket inspectors seem to have a serious attitude problem as well, and could easily put off an occasional traveller from venturing on to the railway again.
 

FenMan

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The more I read about this and other issues with buying through tickets in various threads, the more I wonder if the rail industry realise how much they are discouraging passengers, or is this a deliberate policy! Certainly if I can't get a decent through fare and decent timings from Guildford to say Bristol then I am far more likely to use the car, particularly as it is usually for business and the mileage payment is much more profitable to me personally than just reclaiming the train fare. Some ticket inspectors seem to have a serious attitude problem as well, and could easily put off an occasional traveller from venturing on to the railway again.
This barring of advances on numerous North Downs services is having a significant impact on the availability of advance tickets for long distance journeys to/from destinations all over the country e.g. Manchester, York and Norwich, as well as GWR long distance services.

I would love to hear the reasoning behind GWR's decision to bar advances on quieter services while allowing them on peak trains. For example, advances are barred on the 1901, 1920, 2001, 2134 and 2334 weekday evening departures from Reading (only the 2020 hasn't been barred, so it may become the busiest train of the night!), but they are valid on the 1720 and 1750 departures. Mystifying.
 

JonathanH

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I would love to hear the reasoning behind GWR's decision to bar advances on quieter services while allowing them on peak trains. For example, advances are barred on the 1901, 1920, 2001, 2134 and 2334 weekday evening departures from Reading (only the 2020 hasn't been barred, so it may become the busiest train of the night!), but they are valid on the 1720 and 1750 departures. Mystifying.
It is hopefully as simple as the times not having been finalised for those services yet - there doesn't appear to be a rational explanation (unless of course the pricing manager really does want to prevent through booking).

The 2020 from Reading terminates at Shalford and is not reservable - hence why through advances remain bookable - the same applies to the 0717 Reading to Shalford, 0701, 0837 and 2130 Shalford to Reading which provide an outlet for advance bookings from stations west of Shalford.
 

FenMan

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It appears GWR have undergone a rethink and there has been some progress. Plenty of advances are now available from/to NDL stations via Reading from non-GWR stations such as Norwich and Peterborough. But there are still no advances available for any late afternoon/evening trains from Bristol or Bath or Exeter to NDL stations, while advances are available to Reading on the same trains.

Some sharpening of the pencil is still needed.
 

Haywain

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It appears GWR have undergone a rethink and there has been some progress. Plenty of advances are now available from/to NDL stations via Reading from non-GWR stations such as Norwich and Peterborough. But there are still no advances available for any late afternoon/evening trains from Bristol or Bath or Exeter to NDL stations, while advances are available to Reading on the same trains.

Some sharpening of the pencil is still needed.
Or perhaps some perspective about the major problems GWR have got in simply providing their main line service for the next few weeks.
 

FenMan

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Or perhaps some perspective about the major problems GWR have got in simply providing their main line service for the next few weeks.

I would agree but for the fact advances are being offered to Reading from the west on the same itineraries.
 

infobleep

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I was just looking up services on Monday from Guildford to Gatwick Aiport and noticed some trains don't show a fare. Not even an off-peak fare.

Are booking engines requiring all tickets to have a reservation?

For example, in the image below the 11:40 shows no fare.
 

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