Little Progress on Fares Reform

LNW-GW Joint

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The DfT has published a progress report on its promised fares trials, and the results so far are minimal.
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...-plan-information-on-rail-fares-ticketing.pdf
Action 6 - Fares trials Background
The Action Plan announced a small number of pilots to test key strategic principles that could form the basis of fares reform and to understand how passengers might adapt their travel patterns to new fare structures. The fare trials are intended to strengthen the evidence base to improve policy-making in this area.
Three trials were proposed by industry, which are described in the table below.

Leg-based pricing

Passengers are often frustrated when a direct fare exceeds the sum of fares for journeys between intermediate stations (an issue referred to as ‘split ticketing’). This trial has been to understand how it might be possible for ticketing systems to issue tickets on the basis of individual component ‘legs’, rather than for an end-toend journey. This could form the basis of a new approach to selling tickets which would avoid ‘split ticketing’ issues.

Route simplification

Existing regulation requires every operator to offer a ticket that is available on all permitted routes. Operators are free also to issue tickets that are only valid on some routes, and these are often cheaper. On the proposed test London to Sheffield route, tickets for any permitted routes are more expensive than those for faster direct routes which means the choice of tickets is potentially confusing. There is a risk that some consumers might inadvertently buy a more expensive ticket than they need. This trial is to simplify the routeing options so that passengers only pay for the flexibility that they need.

Single-leg pricing

On a number of routes, the single fare is priced close to the return fare. This favours passengers wanting to make return trips. This trial is to understand how reform to fares and fares regulation could mitigate this effect and gather evidence on how passengers will react to changes.

What we did
We have made limited progress. The DfT has established a framework that enables operators to discuss the trials within the context of competition law, and planning for the changes needed to fares has taken place with evaluation frameworks developed. However more work is needed before the trials can be implemented and fundamental challenges exist around balancing the financial position of train companies and any cost implications for passengers. We shall renew our efforts into 2018 and review this separately later in the year. Fares reform remains a personal priority of the Rail Minister.
All this seems to herald a "no change" situation as the alternatives are unpalatable.
The last sentence suggests Paul Maynard is frustrated at not making more progress.
Even Mr Nationalisation Corbyn would have a problem in undoing this particular knot, which of course dates back to BR.
 
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yorksrob

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It's hard to see how passengers will benefit at all from route "simplification" as it seems merely to restrict what route a passenger can take.

A better form of simplification would be to remove unnecessary route restrictions so that any "reasonable" route is allowed, but of course this policy is designed to make life better for train companies, not passengers.
 

SwindonBert

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This is a really good example of I wouldn't start from here!

There's so much history here, that revolutionising this would be a total nightmare. You would have an outcry from those who lose out, but hear very little from those who win, so the safest option is small steps (although the cost/Km from Swindon to London is amongst the highest, so hope I'm wrong).

The trials on the London to Sheffield route will be interesting, let's see how these develop, there may be something useful from this
 

Hadders

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Simplification’s all very well but it will result in fares becoming more expensive.

Be careful what you wish for...
 

sheff1

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It's hard to see how passengers will benefit at all from route "simplification" as it seems merely to restrict what route a passenger can take.
The document states that York to London Terminals tickets are only valid to Kings Cross. This is untrue - the Routeing Guide clearly shows validity to Liverpool St & St Pancras.

If you use the NRE journey planner you are told the ticket is valid to Kings Cross, Old St & Moorgate, even if you specify a journey via Leicester. This, naturally, makes ticket buying decisions "simpler" for passengers !

One wonders if the next step will be to remove all routes for York to London other then that via the ECML.
 

yorksrob

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The document states that York to London Terminals tickets are only valid to Kings Cross. This is untrue - the Routeing Guide clearly shows validity to Liverpool St & St Pancras.

If you use the NRE journey planner you are told the ticket is valid to Kings Cross, Old St & Moorgate, even if you specify a journey via Leicester. This, naturally, makes ticket buying decisions "simpler" for passengers !

One wonders if the next step will be to remove all routes for York to London other then that via the ECML.
Of course the existing system is simpler for passengers - because those who are looking for a simple, easy to understand journey option will just take the most obvious route to Kings Cross anyway !

Complication for passengers doesn't arise from having lots of obscure options which are easily ignored should the passenger choose. It arises from having needless restrictions on sensible alternative routes so that passengers have to stump up extra if they travel the alternative route, or have to work out which alternative route they may use with their ticket etc.
 

A Challenge

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St Pancras isn't too silly from York - there's direct trains (starting in Scarborough in summer) by EMT. It takes longer, but still...
 

Bletchleyite

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Complication for passengers doesn't arise from having lots of obscure options which are easily ignored should the passenger choose. It arises from having needless restrictions on sensible alternative routes so that passengers have to stump up extra if they travel the alternative route, or have to work out which alternative route they may use with their ticket etc.
I still retain the view that prescriptive routeing (on the ticket) would be the best way to go, provided it comes with the option to calculate a fare via any route the passenger likes however obscure, single leg pricing to avoid the faff with excesses, and the ability to refund and replace a ticket for one with a different route including mid journey.
 

yorksrob

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St Pancras isn't too silly from York - there's direct trains (starting in Scarborough in summer) by EMT. It takes longer, but still...
There could be very good reasons for people to get EMT to York. They might want to legitimately break their journey at Leicester for example, or they might have a friend joining them en-route.

Having fewer restrictions makes such decisions less complicated for the passenger.
 

SS4

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It's hard to see how passengers will benefit at all from route "simplification" as it seems merely to restrict what route a passenger can take.

A better form of simplification would be to remove unnecessary route restrictions so that any "reasonable" route is allowed, but of course this policy is designed to make life better for train companies, not passengers.
That would be the holy grail although IMO you'd need provision for dealing with chancers who play dumb when caught off route
 

yorksrob

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That would be the holy grail although IMO you'd need provision for dealing with chancers who play dumb when caught off route
Although you will doubtless get people going off route, regardless of what ticketing system you use.
 

bb21

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The last sentence suggests Paul Maynard is frustrated at not making more progress.
Hardly surprising. Plenty of experts could see how difficult it would be to push forward with these idealistic reforms, but apparently not the government and their consultants.

Unfortunately politicians have a habit of promising the earth first and worry about delivery when it comes around to that.

Maybe the size of their pay packet should be directly proportional to how much promise is delivered.
 

JB_B

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I'm a bit puzzled by this bit ( on p14 of https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...-plan-information-on-rail-fares-ticketing.pdf )



3.2 The fares, routeing and timetable information is now free for developers to access.
The RDG has made a number of additional data feeds, including the ‘My Ticket’ tool,
and web services available to third parties. Access to these has also been made
easier through a simpler and easier-to-find ‘self-service’ process for developers to
sign up to the RDG data portal. Many feeds have been made free from charge. The
portal includes a detailed developer pack.



As far as I know the routeing data isn't freely available (it's not listed on data.atoc.org/ ) - is this something that's about to change?
 

Bletchleyite

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Although you will doubtless get people going off route, regardless of what ticketing system you use.
The best thing about Swiss style prescriptive routeing is that the answer to that is simply to charge them the difference for the route they selected, as you can ticket any route at all.

There is a need to stop going "ner ner, you can't go that way" and start simply charging a fair price for any route a passenger may desire, without questioning why they might want to do it. It's enough that they do.
 

yorksrob

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The best thing about Swiss style prescriptive routeing is that the answer to that is simply to charge them the difference for the route they selected, as you can ticket any route at all.

There is a need to stop going "ner ner, you can't go that way" and start simply charging a fair price for any route a passenger may desire, without questioning why they might want to do it. It's enough that they do.
I think that that would be a very good system to use, once the passenger strays from a reasonable route.
 
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yorkie

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Leg based pricing - they think this is easy to do and will solve all problems. It is not easy. The idea is that a journey from, say, York to Plymouth will not have a fare, but instead you have to add up all the intermediate fares for the stations you pass through or call at. But that is problematic. Just as far as Sheffield you run into problems, as you can't have a York to Sheffield fare so you have to derive that from other intermediate fares. So do you have to add the fare from York to Leeds with the fare from Leeds to Sheffield? Well, yes, but then the fare from York to Leeds presumably then has to be made up of the sum of the fares from York to Ulleskelf plus Ulleskelf to Church Fenton etc etc. OK, so this "avoids split ticketing issues" but what if York to Sheffield via Leeds adds up to a lot more money than York to Sheffield via Doncaster? And what if, by the time you have added up all these fares, York to Plymouth becomes so hideously expensive it drives people away? OK so they could then artificially reduce the fares if adding up the sum of the fares is too much, but how would that be calculated? Right now, we can do our own "leg based pricing" by using a split ticket website anyway.

Route based simplification - this means taking permitted routes away from us. They want to stop someone from York who has family in Cambridge and London from stopping off at Cambridge along the way. They wish to stop someone from Plymouth visiting a relative in Edinburgh from visiting a friend on the Cumbrian Coast. They wish to stop people doing journeys such as the West Midlands to Marylebone. Why? Because the train companies don't like us having flexibility.

Leg-based pricing - basically cheap return fares are NOT going to be half the price for a single. There will no longer be a discount to return the same day. Passengers making returns are going to see fare rises. Now, I'd be all for leg based pricing if all return fares were halved and priced as singles. But that is NOT what they are planning!

RDG is desperately trying to get DfT to remove flexibility and to increase the TOCs revenues and profits. They claim things like "route based simplification" is a good thing for passengers.

What is needed is actually none of the above, but things like:
- More comprehensive permitted routes
- Fastest route always permitted
- Cheaper single fares
- Common Railcard T&Cs and a Railcard for all
- Shortest route + 3 mile rule enshrined in the Conditions of Travel
- All fares to be excessable, not just some

But none of that will be considered, because those things benefit customers and the Government wants customers to pay through the nose.
 

JB_B

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Thanks, Yorkie - the spec, yes but not - AFAICS - the data.

Looking at ..

https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/our-services/rail-data/rsp-data.html

.. the fares and timetable feeds are freely accessible but to get the RG feed you need sign a technology services licence - ( see template https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/f.../rsp/RSP_Data_Licence_Template_v07-00_(1).pdf ). As well as having quite onerous terms the template licence clearly envisages charging for access to the feed.

This post covers the situation in March 2015.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/openraildata-talk/ALjku405nis

( this is the corresponding price list from that time: www.raildeliverygroup.com/files/Publications/services/rsp/RSP_Licence_Fee_&_Datafeeds_Charge_FY2014-15_v06-00.pdf )

I've not seen anything since on openraildata-talk to suggest this has changed in terms of charges.

I might try applying for a technology services licence and seeing what terms they offer.
 

PeterC

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I don't understand why "leg based pricing" should involve the system suggested by yorkie. I would assume that the major city to city routes would be priced. So York to Plymouth would probably be based two or three legs not the set of micro fares that he suggests.
 

yorkie

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I don't understand why "leg based pricing" should involve the system suggested by yorkie. I would assume that the major city to city routes would be priced. So York to Plymouth would probably be based two or three legs not the set of micro fares that he suggests.
OK so let's say York to Plymouth is based on York to Birmingham, plus two other legs.

How do you price York to Birmingham? Remember the aim is apparently to eliminate splitting. Good luck... ;)

Then you would not need to refer to the Routeing Guide, if you’re on a direct train.
True but if your journey is York to Kentish Town, or Poppleton to St Pancras, you wouldn't be valid as you are no longer on a direct train (if the Midland Mainline ceased to be a permitted route for the throughout journey in question)
 
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Gareth Marston

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Theirs a shed load of fares particularly in the regions where theirs virtually little difference between CDR and SDR or even SDR and Off Peak and by this i'm talking about maybe a £1.00 or two. Theirs a lot of simplification that could be done with minimal repercussion/upheaval.

The reality is the vast bulk of people do not do long distance multi operator journeys. The majority will be on the one train. Why not sort out the low hanging fruit first?
 

Envy123

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What is needed is actually none of the above, but things like:
- More comprehensive permitted routes
- Fastest route always permitted
- Cheaper single fares
- Common Railcard T&Cs and a Railcard for all
- Shortest route + 3 mile rule enshrined in the Conditions of Travel
- All fares to be excessable, not just some

But none of that will be considered, because those things benefit customers and the Government wants customers to pay through the nose.
To add onto the "fastest route always permitted", there should be more acceptance of doubling-back when it is genuinely faster to do so, or at the very least have a fare which allows this.

Due to the infrequent and often slow services to Horley, it's often faster to take the GatEx/Southern service from Victoria to Gatwick then take the local Southern to Horley, rather than wait for a direct train. But there isn't even any fare which allows this on both legs - I wanted to pay extra for it but couldn't.

The closest I got to the ideal route, was to buy a ticket to Gatwick and stop short at Horley, but then I had to wait long to take a direct train back as I couldn't go via Gatwick on my return leg.

Seems like the Government didn't even want the extra money that I was willing to pay for, just to save time on a journey, then.
 

maniacmartin

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I've always assumed that 'leg-based pricing' should include a discount percentage that goes up the more legs are added on. That would enable longer journeys such as York to Penzance to be priced competitively without more local/regional journeys having to be dirt cheap.
 

thedbdiboy

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Leg based pricing - they think this is easy to do and will solve all problems. It is not easy. The idea is that a journey from, say, York to Plymouth will not have a fare, but instead you have to add up all the intermediate fares for the stations you pass through or call at. But that is problematic. Just as far as Sheffield you run into problems, as you can't have a York to Sheffield fare so you have to derive that from other intermediate fares. So do you have to add the fare from York to Leeds with the fare from Leeds to Sheffield? Well, yes, but then the fare from York to Leeds presumably then has to be made up of the sum of the fares from York to Ulleskelf plus Ulleskelf to Church Fenton etc etc. OK, so this "avoids split ticketing issues" but what if York to Sheffield via Leeds adds up to a lot more money than York to Sheffield via Doncaster? And what if, by the time you have added up all these fares, York to Plymouth becomes so hideously expensive it drives people away? OK so they could then artificially reduce the fares if adding up the sum of the fares is too much, but how would that be calculated? Right now, we can do our own "leg based pricing" by using a split ticket website anyway.

Route based simplification - this means taking permitted routes away from us. They want to stop someone from York who has family in Cambridge and London from stopping off at Cambridge along the way. They wish to stop someone from Plymouth visiting a relative in Edinburgh from visiting a friend on the Cumbrian Coast. They wish to stop people doing journeys such as the West Midlands to Marylebone. Why? Because the train companies don't like us having flexibility.

Leg-based pricing - basically cheap return fares are NOT going to be half the price for a single. There will no longer be a discount to return the same day. Passengers making returns are going to see fare rises. Now, I'd be all for leg based pricing if all return fares were halved and priced as singles. But that is NOT what they are planning!

RDG is desperately trying to get DfT to remove flexibility and to increase the TOCs revenues and profits. They claim things like "route based simplification" is a good thing for passengers.

What is needed is actually none of the above, but things like:
- More comprehensive permitted routes
- Fastest route always permitted
- Cheaper single fares
- Common Railcard T&Cs and a Railcard for all
- Shortest route + 3 mile rule enshrined in the Conditions of Travel
- All fares to be excessable, not just some

But none of that will be considered, because those things benefit customers and the Government wants customers to pay through the nose.
I know I'm never going to change your mind on this one, but just forget for a minute any issue with regards to TOC profitability or otherwise, or indeed whether the system is nationalised or privatised. Unfortunately your recipe above for fares bears no relation whatsoever to what an ordinary (non-enthusiast) person in the 21st century actually might want from paying for their train travel, certainly from any of the research or focus groups I've been involved with.

Customers want is to be able to understand how much a journey will cost, that they have the best deal for their requirements, and that it is easy to buy (which believe it or not for many people means being able to buy it on their phone without fiddling around collecting it at a ticket machine or queuing at a ticket office unless they need some help).

If the best price has any restrictions, (say, non-refundable) they want to know how much extra it would cost to have refundability or how easy it is to change their plans. Funnily enough they are not keen on all fares to be excessable if it means the loss of the very cheapest deals.

The routeing guide, concepts of 'routeing' , 3 miles rules etc are quite simply baffling and pointless complexity for anyone except those that want to have fun gaming the system. It is the gaming that creates the distrust.

The purpose of any trial will be to demonstrate in real life what the alternative might look like before any commitment to proceed. That gives everyone the chance to see, try and comment on ideas before there is any further rollout. It's hard to see why testing something is to be afraid of, unless the fear is that ordinary people might actually quite like it....
 

Starmill

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If the best price has any restrictions, (say, non-refundable) they want to know how much extra it would cost to have refundability or how easy it is to change their plans. Funnily enough they are not keen on all fares to be excessable if it means the loss of the very cheapest deals.
So you are saying that the trial will make it easier for customers to change their plans? Because there is nothing in the announcement which supports this. Also permitting people to excess between all tickets (with fees for Advances) would not cost anything to implement and would give the customer more flexibility. Or just allow any ticket to be refunded with no admin fee (for walk-ups at least) if a replacement is bought immediately, and do away with excising altogether.

I don't see how removing permitted routes from ECML destinations to London via Cambridge (which we know you want to do) is achieving any of these things that you say the customer wants? I completely agree that they want the best deal, accurate information and to use their phone as a ticket. But there are really easy ways to do that, i.e. cut prices, remove restrictions and make m-tickets available nationwide. Done in one, you could have that rolled out at the next fares change (you did say we could ignore issues of profitability).
 

infobleep

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To add onto the "fastest route always permitted", there should be more acceptance of doubling-back when it is genuinely faster to do so, or at the very least have a fare which allows this.

Due to the infrequent and often slow services to Horley, it's often faster to take the GatEx/Southern service from Victoria to Gatwick then take the local Southern to Horley, rather than wait for a direct train. But there isn't even any fare which allows this on both legs - I wanted to pay extra for it but couldn't.

The closest I got to the ideal route, was to buy a ticket to Gatwick and stop short at Horley, but then I had to wait long to take a direct train back as I couldn't go via Gatwick on my return leg.

Seems like the Government didn't even want the extra money that I was willing to pay for, just to save time on a journey, then.
If you have a return ticket which doesn't prohibit a break of journey then you are free to continue your outward journey to Gatwick, after your break at Horley, taking into account any time and date restrictions of course.

Then you can start your return journey from Gatwick anytime you like, taking into account time and date restrictions of course.
 

sheff1

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Customers want is to be able to understand how much a journey will cost, that they have the best deal for their requirements, and that it is easy to buy (which believe it or not for many people means being able to buy it on their phone without fiddling around collecting it at a ticket machine or queuing at a ticket office unless they need some help).

If the best price has any restrictions, (say, non-refundable) they want to know how much extra it would cost to have refundability or how easy it is to change their plans.
I am sure this is all true. In which case, if we forget any issue with regards to TOC profitability as you suggest, a new fares structure could have been implemented fairly swiftly to meet these ideals.

Of course, in reality, the reason why such a structure has not been implemented is, seemingly, largely down to TOC profitability issues so I am unsure why you are asking us to forget them.
 

Starmill

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Of course, in reality, the reason why such a structure has not been implemented is, seemingly, largely down to TOC profitability issues so I am unsure why you are asking us to forget them
Precisely. All of these problems can be solved without difficulty, so long as the train companies or the government are happy to pay do so.

If there's some way to look at improving these without passengers paying more then I would love to hear about it, but it doesn't seem that anything being proposed involves that.
 

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