LNER New Fares Trial

Searle

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I can see a couple of drawbacks with only buying a ticket at the last minute. If there's a group of you travelling, you may not be able to reserve seats together.
You still encounter the same issue if you have an open return but don't know when you're travelling back - how do you book on an open return if you don't know when you'll be travelling?
 
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snail

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You still encounter the same issue if you have an open return but don't know when you're travelling back - how do you book on an open return if you don't know when you'll be travelling?
On an open return you can book a reservation but travel on a different day. If tickets are restricted to the day - as saver half tickets are now - you would have to change the ticket.
 

Searle

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Fair enough. Personally, if it cuts down on people booking seat reservations and not using them, then I'm all in favour - it's a massive bugbear of mine
 

yorkie

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Fair enough. Personally, if it cuts down on people booking seat reservations and not using them, then I'm all in favour - it's a massive bugbear of mine
I don't think it will do that. I suspect no change at all in unclaimed reservations but, it anything the opposite might be the case, as people will no longer be able to choose the "open return" option on websites.
You still encounter the same issue if you have an open return but don't know when you're travelling back - how do you book on an open return if you don't know when you'll be travelling?
either make two separate transactions, or buy the ticket to somewhere like Kentish Town or Finsbury Park to sneakily get around it ;)
 

ForTheLoveOf

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I don't think it's something the people behind this pilot would want, either. The ultimate aim could be to make all tickets single ones, so someone going to two different places would buy a ticket from the start to the first, from the first to the second, and from the second back to the start, and wouldn't have to care about whether or not the RDG feels one station lies between the other two. Making this sort of journey more expensive in the interim doesn't help with this.
The only way that the reduction in rights as to overnight break of journey could be made less of a financial disadvantage to passenger, would be to unify ticket pricing per mile nationwide, with no distance-based tapering off. This has so many issues that you can hardly begin, and some would remain even if the rates are set so low as not to allow any fares to increase (which would mean substantial decreases in farebox revenue and increases in overcrowding).

The other alternative is, as I've mentioned before, a form of capping. This could be based on the current cost of a period return. But that would require a substantial computational effort given the country can't be neatly divided up into a single system of Zones in the way London is for the purposes of contactless and Oyster calling.

This is completely to ignore the issues caused by greater numbers of transactions for buying tickets - which will mean more money spent on printing receipts, administration, database processing and storage, payment processing fees, not to mention longer queues at ticket machines and offices. And the inconvenience to passengers of having to allow an indeterminate amount of time before travelling to queue for a ticket, rather than jumping straight on the train.
 

Cavan

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Am I correct in thinking as the old "off-peak" has been abolished, then now you have to buy a anytime for any travel out of kings cross before 09.06, where as off peak were valid before 06.45 and after 07.59? So that is a piss take from LNER - the 08.00 ex KX was always a very popular with off-peak ticket holders...
 

Haywain

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Can the machines at Kings Cross issue out and back tickets to Edinburgh in one transaction now, assuming you know your return date, or do you have to buy your return ticket in Edinburgh (which would not be simpler?).
Yes, the LNER machines can.
 

sheff1

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Indeed, and I'm convinced only enthusiasts make use of it.
How strange. I can assure you that when I worked in a booking office I was often asked what was the best ticket to travel a-b & then stop off at c (between -a-b) for a night on the way back.

There again the dictionary definition of "enthusiast" is "a person who is very interested in a particular activity" so on that basis anyone who asks about the best ticket for their journey is an enthusiast.
 

transmanche

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Am I correct in thinking as the old "off-peak" has been abolished, then now you have to buy a anytime for any travel out of kings cross before 09.06, where as off peak were valid before 06.45 and after 07.59? So that is a piss take from LNER - the 08.00 ex KX was always a very popular with off-peak ticket holders...
Well, there's no Off-Peak Single available on the flows that are part of this trial.

Newcastle-Finsbury Park
  • Anytime Return £330
  • Off-Peak Return £240.60
  • Super Off-Peak return £145.70
Newcastle-King's Cross
  • Anytime Single £165
  • Super Off-Peak Single £72.85
So, one might expect there would be an Off-Peak Single at £120.30 to be available for those who wanted to arrive in London between 10:08 and 11:16. Effectively, those who want to travel on the 07:29 or 07:59 services from Newcastle now have to buy an Anytime ticket.

But what about returning from King's Cross? I can only use the Super Off-Peak Single between 09:06 and 14:59 and after 18:59 (or 18:15 on Fridays). So, if my return journey is within those time bands, I can combine an Anytime Single outbound and a Super Off-Peak Single inbound for a total of £237.85. That's a couple of quid cheaper than the equivalent Off-Peak Return, which is what they would have needed to buy before the fares trial.

The people who will really be affected are those who want to travel out on the 07:29 or 07:59 from Newcastle and return on the 15:00, 15:30, 18:00, 18:18 and 18:30 departures from Kings Cross (Mon-Thurs), or the 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:00, 17:30 or 18:00 (Fridays). They will now have to pay £330 instead of £240.60.

I expect LNER are assuming passengers will be able to purchase an Advance Single for one leg of the journey. For example, right now Advances for £125.50 are available for the 07:29 & 07:59 departures on Monday. That's just a fiver more expensive than the 'notional' Off-Peak Single price.

If they are canny, I suspect that by mixing and matching most people will either make a saving or at least be no worse off.
 

yorkie

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The people who will really be affected are those who want to travel out on the 07:29 or 07:59 from Newcastle and return on the 15:00, 15:30, 18:00, 18:18 and 18:30 departures from Kings Cross (Mon-Thurs), or the 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:00, 17:30 or 18:00 (Fridays). They will now have to pay £330 instead of £240.60.
It is true that LNER are instructing their staff to charge people £330 and programming their website to do that.

However you can easily circumvent this, by purchasing a SVR from Newcastle to, say, Kentish Town (or any of various other places in the same cluster). Of course, people who use split ticketing sites will also be able to circumvent these fares too, as there are huge savings to be had by splitting on this route (LNER aren't allowed to apply an evening peak for SVRs north of Peterborough inclusive)

So it's effectively a surcharge paid by people who stay loyal to LNER's retail channels and just stick with what LNER recommend.
 

Bletchleyite

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It is true that LNER are instructing their staff to charge people £330 and programming their website to do that.

However you can easily circumvent this, by purchasing a SVR from Newcastle to, say, Kentish Town (or any of various other places in the same cluster). Of course, people who use split ticketing sites will also be able to circumvent these fares too, as there are huge savings to be had by splitting on this route (LNER aren't allowed to apply an evening peak for SVRs north of Peterborough inclusive)

So it's effectively a surcharge paid by people who stay loyal to LNER's retail channels and just stick with what LNER recommend.
I was quite surprised they didn't keep the 3 levels, with an Off Peak Single at half the Off Peak Return fare.
 

Skimpot flyer

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The people who will really be affected are those who want to travel out on the 07:29 or 07:59 from Newcastle and return on the 15:00, 15:30, 18:00, 18:18 and 18:30 departures from Kings Cross (Mon-Thurs), or the 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:00, 17:30 or 18:00 (Fridays). They will now have to pay £330 instead of £240.60.
Taking the more extreme example, is anyone wishing to travel on the 07:59 from Newcastle seriously going to be intending to catch the 15:00 train back?? A three-hour journey, to spend only 4 hours in the capital? Pretty unlikely, I think, that anyone would do that. If they were going into central London for a show, sporting event or suchlike, when you factor-in a tube journey to/from the venue, I doubt that they’d be dashing to catch the 15:00 train from Kings Cross!
 

yorkie

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Taking the more extreme example, is anyone wishing to travel on the 07:59 from Newcastle seriously going to be intending to catch the 15:00 train back?? A three-hour journey, to spend only 4 hours in the capital? Pretty unlikely, I think, that anyone would do that. If they were going into central London for a show, sporting event or suchlike, when you factor-in a tube journey to/from the venue, I doubt that they’d be dashing to catch the 15:00 train from Kings Cross!
Or maybe they were attending a business meeting or maybe they were staying for more than one day?

But why only pick the 'extreme' example? 07:29 there and 17:30 back seems very plausible to me.
I was quite surprised they didn't keep the 3 levels, with an Off Peak Single at half the Off Peak Return fare.
Yes, this is a good question.

Maybe the aim of the trial is to only offer a smaller range of fares, as this is seen as "simple" compared to offering a wider range; of course this results in some people paying more, but perhaps their priority is to pander to the "fares must be simpler" brigade rather than those who campaign for fares to be more affordable or fairer (you can't have it all!)

But let's try to avoid too much of a philosophical discussion and keep the thread reasonably concise ;)
 

Haywain

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It is true that LNER are instructing their staff to charge people £330 and programming their website to do that.
Are you claiming that specific instructions to staff have been issued, and that changes have been made to the website?
 

yorkie

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Are you claiming that specific instructions to staff have been issued, and that changes have been made to the website?
https://www.independent.co.uk/trave...-distance-london-edinburgh-lner-a9269311.html
on the video, Simon Calder says:
"LNER says ticket staff will only sell the ticket they've been asked for"
Are you aware of some other instructions? If so I am keen to hear more!

As for the website, it won't offer tickets to somewhere like Kentish Town if you only plan your journey to King's Cross, or are you saying there are plans afoot to offer the best value valid fare on the website? If so that's an exciting development I'd like to hear more about!
 

Haywain

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https://www.independent.co.uk/trave...-distance-london-edinburgh-lner-a9269311.html
on the video, Simon Calder says:
Are you aware of some other instructions? If so I am keen to hear more!

As for the website, it won't offer tickets to somewhere like Kentish Town if you only plan your journey to King's Cross, or are you saying there are plans afoot to offer the best value valid fare on the website? If so that's an exciting development I'd like to hear more about!
What a newspaper/website has chosen to attribute to the company is not the same as specific instructions being issued. I am sure that the staff in Travel Centres will continue to provide relevant advice for the journey requested. As for the website it does the same as it did before this fares change and I doubt you can name any website that will offer tickets for a different journey to the one requested - even Trainsplit has to work to the same origin/destination parameters.
 

yorkie

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I would hope that selling a ticket to a destination not specified would be an accreditation failure. You never know what unintended consequences that could invoke.
Indeed, so it's interesting that train companies has created many more situations where it is cheaper to do this, in recent years than ever existed previously, while RDG erroneously claims they already existed under BR.

This is one example; an extreme case admittedly , though these fares did actually exist a year ago from LNER's own website (https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/lner-ticket-type-ssu.176525/#post-3826962).

I also don't think that starting short is in the same league as combining tickets; the latter is not an accreditation issue at all, is already offered by many suppliers (even NRE has that functionality though it is turned off if a through fare exists) and would handle journeys such as London to Bradford, London to Morpeth, London to Inverkeithing and so on.

TOCs are creating situations that put their staff into a difficult position and also create the situation where a signifiant number of their passengers are better off using third party sites such as Raileurope or Trainsplit. The latter even has a seat selector now, so no reason to use the LNER site at all (except for people who just don't know any better). This may not be a big issue but LNER's advertising states "cheapest train tickets when you book direct"; now that's really naughty.
 

yorkie

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Then, perhaps, you should bring this to the attention of the ASA.
I believe George Eckton may have already done so; he previously got Scotrail into hot water for saying the same sort of thing! I do hope he joins this forum, he is doing some great work.
 

sheff1

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Taking the more extreme example, is anyone wishing to travel on the 07:59 from Newcastle seriously going to be intending to catch the 15:00 train back?? A three-hour journey, to spend only 4 hours in the capital? Pretty unlikely, I think, that anyone would do that.
Another strange post which this thread seems to be attracting.o_O

I, and many others, have travelled down to London for a 2/3 hour meeting in an office very close to Kings Cross on many occasions. I doubt we were the only organisation wanting people to do similar.

I, and others, have also travelled down one morning, had meetings on the first day and the second morning before returning north around 1500 on day two. Again, I doubt we were the only organisation arranging such things.
 

Skimpot flyer

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Transmanche was lamenting the £89.40 difference in fare for those wishing to travel back to Newcastle on the ‘barred’ 15:00 etc departures.
A business traveller is not likely to be too concerned, as their employer will most likely be covering the cost.
I was merely implying that the leisure traveller would surely have the sense to avoid those trains, if cost was a big concern. There are many enjoyable ways to pass the time in London until after 18:18; go see a movie, have a meal, ride the London Eye... much cheaper than paying an avoidable £89.40 premium!
 

Wallsendmag

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Transmanche was lamenting the £89.40 difference in fare for those wishing to travel back to Newcastle on the ‘barred’ 15:00 etc departures.
A business traveller is not likely to be too concerned, as their employer will most likely be covering the cost.
I was merely implying that the leisure traveller would surely have the sense to avoid those trains, if cost was a big concern. There are many enjoyable ways to pass the time in London until after 18:18; go see a movie, have a meal, ride the London Eye... much cheaper than paying an avoidable £89.40 premium!
Obviously if you know which train you are catching you buy an Advance.
 

transmanche

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Transmanche was lamenting the £89.40 difference in fare for those wishing to travel back to Newcastle on the ‘barred’ 15:00 etc departures.
Well, I was really highlighting that the loss of the Off-Peak Return might not affect as many journeys as it might first appear.

Of the 32 direct southbound trains, it only affects two of them. And of the 31 direct northbound trains, it affects five (Mon-Thurs) or seven of them (Fridays).

A business traveller is not likely to be too concerned, as their employer will most likely be covering the cost.
That's still no excuse for them to be overcharged.

Obviously if you know which train you are catching you buy an Advance.
And this is the crux of the matter.

Let's take the example of the business traveller as mentioned by @sheff1: travelling down to London in the early morning (for a pre-10:00 arrival) and returning mid-afternoon, but wanting some flexibility for the return journey as the meeting length is uncertain. Previously they would probably have to buy an Anytime Return (£330). Now they might be able to buy an Advance Single for the outbound journey and an Anytime Single (£165) for the return. If the Advance Single is less than £165, they will have made a saving.

This is a plausible possibility, as in the given scenario it's more likely that the outbound journey time could be fixed in advance.

Now, I'm not suggesting that all is sweetness and light with the Fares Trial. Just that it may not be as negative as it might appear at first glance.
 

transmanche

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I know that people here obsess about break of journey but how many travellers actually have a need for it?
Loads of people who make longer distance journeys do stop off somewhere; it's not common for short journeys but it's very common for longer journeys.
I've pondered this 'loss of flexibility' issue over the past few days. And the conclusion I've come to is that because of changes to fares and restrictions over the past couple of decades, for most people, such 'flexibility' on long-distance journeys no longer exists.

In the 1990s, in general, I would have bought a Saver or SuperSaver to travel from Newcastle to London. Yes, sometimes I bought an Apex or a SuperAdvance, but usually it was a Saver or SuperSaver.

In 2005, a Saver cost £87 and a BusinessSaver cost £95.50. In 2020, the regulated Saver is now called a Super Off-Peak Return and costs £145.70. The unregulated BusinessSaver is now called an Off-Peak Return and costs an eyewatering £240.60! (Adjusted for inflation to 2018 - the latest available on the Bank of England Inflation Calculator - the Saver would cost about £128 and the BusinessSaver about £140.)

I simply can't afford to buy flexible tickets any more. Now, I always buy an Advance when travelling to London. Effectively, 'flexibility' no longer exists for me. I've been priced out.

There's a generation of younger people who have grown up only knowing the new system and probably don't even realise that flexible tickets are available. All they are used to doing is buying non-flexible Advance tickets for long-distance journeys.
 

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