LNER New Fares Trial

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Bletchleyite

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The main case for break of journey is popping to the shops between trains, or stopping or starting[1] short for non-fare-avoiding reasons. I've never been refused that even on an Advance, but it does seem enforcement is getting stricter over time and there has been the odd anecdotal evidence of it being prevented even though industry guidelines are not to prevent it.

It's that that I feel really needs to be protected.

[1] Though the single-fare model does reduce the need for that. I often buy an Off Peak Return northbound from Bletchley but start at MKC so I can go back to Bletchley if I want. With a single-fares model there would be no need to do that.
 
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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!
This business traveller still has to get the travel authorised and paid back. My employer (and, where applicable, customer) may be less price sensitive than I, but they are still price sensitive.
 

General Zod

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I guess as today is the first working day back after the Xmas break no-one has yet used the "LNER London-Edinburgh Cheapo" on an evening Avanti West Coast train out of Euston. Would be interesting to hear what reaction a passenger travelling on this ticket gets from Avanti gateline staff at the station :D
 

Haywain

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I guess as today is the first working day back after the Xmas break no-one has yet used the "LNER London-Edinburgh Cheapo" on an evening Avanti West Coast train out of Euston. Would be interesting to hear what reaction a passenger travelling on this ticket gets from Avanti gateline staff at the station :D
LNER (and predecessors) have always priced tickets to Edinburgh which are valid from Euston so there really is no change to the situation that existed previously, particularly while a 50% discounted SSS was available as a standalone ticket - a period which covers at least the last 2 years.
 

Starmill

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LNER (and predecessors) have always priced tickets to Edinburgh which are valid from Euston so there really is no change to the situation that existed previously, particularly while a 50% discounted SSS was available as a standalone ticket - a period which covers at least the last 2 years.
Indeed. And there will be large numbers of passengers with VT's 'Off Peak' tickets boarding the Scotland bound trains in the evening peak at London Euston anyway, regardless of LNER's price setting.
 

Smylers

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The main case for break of journey is popping to the shops between trains, or stopping or starting short for non-fare-avoiding reasons. I've never been refused that even on an Advance, but it does seem enforcement is getting stricter over time and there has been the odd anecdotal evidence of it being prevented even though industry guidelines are not to prevent it.
On the outbound portion of an Anytime Day Return from Paddington to Hayes & Harlington, I alighted at Ealing Broadway to perform a brief errand, then attempted to re-enter the station 5–10 minutes later.

The ticket barriers didn't accept my ticket, and nor did the member of staff at the barriers with the magic pass for the wide gate. They were adamant that my ticket wasn't valid because I alighted at an intermediate station, and that I had to buy a new ticket to complete my journey. After a few fruitless rounds of “is valid”, “isn't”, “is”, “isn't”, I couldn't see any other way of getting through the barrier, so went to buy another ticket. While I was queueing to do that, the train I was aiming for departed, and I ended up late for work.
 

transmanche

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The ticket barriers didn't accept my ticket, and nor did the member of staff at the barriers with the magic pass for the wide gate. They were adamant that my ticket wasn't valid because I alighted at an intermediate station...
I don't know the layout at Ealing Broadway. Is the gateline staffed by TfL Rail or LU? Just wondering if they may have got confused, as BoJ is not permitted on LU or on Oyster/Contactless.

Or maybe it's been so long since they last saw an Anytime Day Return ticket for that journey, they just clean forgot. Oyster/Contactless is so much cheaper - nearly £3 cheaper even if both directions are charged at peak fares.
 

Roy Badami

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FWIW the main reason I've used overnight BoJ is to construct affordable Home-to-A-to-B-to-Home triangular journeys when, for whatever reason, Advance tickets weren't suitable for my needs

As such, it was at least partly a workaround for the lack of reasonably priced (Super) Off Peak Singles on those routes. Fixing the pricing of the singles actually solves this problem is a far more general way - after all, not all such journeys can by completed with a return and BoJ.

In any case, most people would probably not even know that BoJ even existed, let alone know how to find out whether B was on a permitted route home from A.

So this change, although detrimental to those of us comfortable with the ticketing system, will benefit far more people wanting to make off-peak triangular/multi-stop journeys without committing to particular trains.

Of course, I'd prefer it if flexibility wasn't lost. But it seems to be that this change creates more flexibility than it removes - certainly for the non-experts - in the case of allowing flexible timings on itineraries more complex than a simple return

So, cautiously in favour, I think.
 

Bletchleyite

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In any case, most people would probably not even know that BoJ even existed, let alone know how to find out whether B was on a permitted route home from A.
I think it depends what you mean by BoJ.

I'd expect most people would think you could not stop overnight. And pricing as singles means you at least have the option to split tickets for that without being ridiculously overcharged (sometimes it'll even be cheaper).

I would by contrast expect that most people would think you could, if travelling from Manchester to Coventry, pop out at Birmingham for a couple of hours to do some shopping, whatever the ticket type[1], or that you could start or end short if you saw fit provided you heeded any other restrictions e.g. booked trains or time restrictions.

I think it is therefore very important that the latter is allowed (as indeed it is on these trial single tickets). The former much less so.

[1] For Advances obviously you have to use the booked trains, but between the trains if you've got half an hour spare (say) I see no reason you should not pop into town to get a sandwich or something.
 

Roy Badami

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Agreed. Same day BoJ needs to be retained. As with other posters, I'd be strongly in favour of two-day ticket validity to facilitate overnight BoJ.

But really, I think this trial supports the walk-up railway - something many of us worry may be under threat.

If singles, open jaws, triangular journeys and even more complex itineraries can be accomplished at discounted prices *without* committing to particular trains (and without having to be a ticketing/routeing expert ) then I would say that would constitute a massive boost to the walk up railway.
 

181

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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.
On the face of it, that suggests that £128 is affordable for you but £145.70 isn't -- it doesn't seem that big a difference. Or do the time restrictions on the Super Off-Peak make it impracticable? (I may be fortunate in that most of my long-distance journeys aren't too badly affected by such restrictions and tend to be at weekends anyway).

I'm not convinced by the argument that because flexible travel is unaffordable for some people it doesn't matter if it's made unaffordable for everyone else as well (you're not necessarily saying that, and the scheme under discussion may well have a net benefit for flexibility -- see below -- but I think people have said similar things on other threads).

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.
It may be true that people think that, but if so, that's a problem that ideally would be addressed rather than accepted.

FWIW the main reason I've used overnight BoJ is to construct affordable Home-to-A-to-B-to-Home triangular journeys when, for whatever reason, Advance tickets weren't suitable for my needs

As such, it was at least partly a workaround for the lack of reasonably priced (Super) Off Peak Singles on those routes. Fixing the pricing of the singles actually solves this problem is a far more general way - after all, not all such journeys can by completed with a return and BoJ.

In any case, most people would probably not even know that BoJ even existed, let alone know how to find out whether B was on a permitted route home from A.

So this change, although detrimental to those of us comfortable with the ticketing system, will benefit far more people wanting to make off-peak triangular/multi-stop journeys without committing to particular trains.

Of course, I'd prefer it if flexibility wasn't lost. But it seems to be that this change creates more flexibility than it removes - certainly for the non-experts - in the case of allowing flexible timings on itineraries more complex than a simple return

So, cautiously in favour, I think.
That's mostly correct, and we shouldn't assume that all change is bad and reject a beneficial change because it has downsides, but the downside seems unnecessary -- introduction of reasonably priced singles doesn't have to mean the withdrawal of returns.

And pricing as singles means you at least have the option to split tickets for that without being ridiculously overcharged (sometimes it'll even be cheaper).
Although as fares per mile tend to be lower for longer journeys it could cost a fair bit more, albeit not as much as buying separate singles at almost the price of a return.
 

181

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Agreed. Same day BoJ needs to be retained. As with other posters, I'd be strongly in favour of two-day ticket validity to facilitate overnight BoJ.

But really, I think this trial supports the walk-up railway - something many of us worry may be under threat.

If singles, open jaws, triangular journeys and even more complex itineraries can be accomplished at discounted prices *without* committing to particular trains (and without having to be a ticketing/routeing expert ) then I would say that would constitute a massive boost to the walk up railway.
I think I agree with that.
 

takno

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FWIW the main reason I've used overnight BoJ is to construct affordable Home-to-A-to-B-to-Home triangular journeys when, for whatever reason, Advance tickets weren't suitable for my needs

As such, it was at least partly a workaround for the lack of reasonably priced (Super) Off Peak Singles on those routes. Fixing the pricing of the singles actually solves this problem is a far more general way - after all, not all such journeys can by completed with a return and BoJ.

In any case, most people would probably not even know that BoJ even existed, let alone know how to find out whether B was on a permitted route home from A.

So this change, although detrimental to those of us comfortable with the ticketing system, will benefit far more people wanting to make off-peak triangular/multi-stop journeys without committing to particular trains.

Of course, I'd prefer it if flexibility wasn't lost. But it seems to be that this change creates more flexibility than it removes - certainly for the non-experts - in the case of allowing flexible timings on itineraries more complex than a simple return

So, cautiously in favour, I think.
I'd add that for various reasons I almost always want to break my journey on the outward rather than the return portion nowadays, so the added flexibility from the singles is almost certainly worth more to me than the break of journey opportunity from a return. I understand that some people will lose out, but I can't see it being any more than a tiny fraction of the number of people who will benefit from simpler fares and the ability to put together a journey from tickets they can actually understand
 

transmanche

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On the face of it, that suggests that £128 is affordable for you but £145.70 isn't -- it doesn't seem that big a difference. Or do the time restrictions on the Super Off-Peak make it impracticable?
No, it's more that £140 might be justifiable but £240 is not. It was the BusinessSaver that I purchased more often.

Personally, yes I do think £128 is a bit over the odds given the restrictions on the ticket. I think something closer to £100 would be appropriate.
Especially when you compare it to the price of travelling from Carlisle to London. Avanti's Off-Peak Return is £128, nearly half the price of LNER's. And it has fewer restrictions too: 3A v 1D.

(I have occasionally purchased an Off-Peak Single in conjunction with an Advance Single, when I have been uncertain of my return date or if the price of an Advance is so close to the price of the Off-Peak Single that the saving is not worth it.

I'm not convinced by the argument that because flexible travel is unaffordable for some people it doesn't matter if it's made unaffordable for everyone else as well (you're not necessarily saying that, and the scheme under discussion may well have a net benefit for flexibility -- see below -- but I think people have said similar things on other threads).
No, definitely not suggesting that. Quite the opposite, in fact. I said upthread that:
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.
 

Roy Badami

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introduction of reasonably priced singles doesn't have to mean the withdrawal of returns.
Agreed, in principle. But the reality is that increasingly people buy online, and the need to choose whether to buy a return or two singles significantly complicates the purchase process. So again, what seems to us to be a downside may actually benefit occasional travellers who are unfamilliar with the fares system.

I'm not saying there isn't a way to solve this. Just that, on balance, the upsides of eliminating returns _might_ justify the downsides...

EDIT: In fact, I've never thought of this before, but it's quite possible that the reason that Virgin Trains originally introduced the Saver Half (or whatever it was called back then) was actually driven by the desire to simplify the online purchase journey...
 

Roy Badami

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I'd add that for various reasons I almost always want to break my journey on the outward rather than the return portion nowadays, so the added flexibility from the singles is almost certainly worth more to me than the break of journey opportunity from a return. I understand that some people will lose out, but I can't see it being any more than a tiny fraction of the number of people who will benefit from simpler fares and the ability to put together a journey from tickets they can actually understand
I thought that since the change from Saver Returns to Off Peak Returns, BoJ is allowed on both legs of an Off Peak Return, unless explicity restricted by the Restriction Code (which I think is relatively rare). So in most cases you can already break on the outward, no?

EDIT: Granted, you may be unlucky enough to mainly travel on a route where outward BoJ is restricted. But there's no guarantee that singles won't be likewise restricted on your route after the change...
 

yorkie

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EDIT: In fact, I've never thought of this before, but it's quite possible that the reason that Virgin Trains originally introduced the Saver Half (or whatever it was called back then) was actually driven by the desire to simplify the online purchase journey...
It may have partly been to provide a product for the market of people who are happy to commit to a specific outward service but want flexibility on their return.

It may also have been to overcome one of the fundamental user interface (UI) problems with having a fares structure that relies on non-flexible fares being booked as singles and flexible fares being booked as returns; Virgin's UI was significantly different to other operators as a result. I think the importance of this cannot be understated.

The East Coast franchise achieved exactly the same thing as Virgin a few years later, with their SSUs, though this was dogged with technical limitations during 2018-19 which led to many people being overcharged (especially Railcard holders, who had to book on a third party website to get the correct fare!)

The trial changes nothing when it comes to people booking return itineraries; the key difference here is that people who purely look for single tickets between KGX and LDS/NCL/EDB will no longer have to pay a premium and it ends the absurdity whereby you had to search for a dirt cheap Advance at some unpopular time which you would then chuck away just to get a half price single.

But even that was possible for non-Railcard holders booking online when the website was unable to retail SSU fares correctly; in effect LNER had already done a trial of sorts, albeit by accident rather than by design!
 

takno

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It may have partly been to provide a product for the market of people who are happy to commit to a specific outward service but want flexibility on their return.

It may also have been to overcome one of the fundamental user interface (UI) problems with having a fares structure that relies on non-flexible fares being booked as singles and flexible fares being booked as returns; Virgin's UI was significantly different to other operators as a result. I think the importance of this cannot be understated.

The East Coast franchise achieved exactly the same thing as Virgin a few years later, with their SSUs, though this was dogged with technical limitations during 2018-19 which led to many people being overcharged (especially Railcard holders, who had to book on a third party website to get the correct fare!)

The trial changes nothing when it comes to people booking return itineraries; the key difference here is that people who purely look for single tickets between KGX and LDS/NCL/EDB will no longer have to pay a premium and it ends the absurdity whereby you had to search for a dirt cheap Advance at some unpopular time which you would then chuck away just to get a half price single.

But even that was possible for non-Railcard holders booking online when the website was unable to retail SSU fares correctly; in effect LNER had already done a trial of sorts, albeit by accident rather than by design!
In practice the trial itself makes no difference to me, since I'm usually buying a ticket for a destination south of London, and was already buying the cheap off-peak singles from the website when I needed them. The VTEC website may have been poorly executed and incompetent on a whole range of levels, but making the saver half available without a ticket in the other direction made all the pain well worth it, and probably knocked my plane usage down by about 50%
 

Roy Badami

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It may also have been to overcome one of the fundamental user interface (UI) problems with having a fares structure that relies on non-flexible fares being booked as singles and flexible fares being booked as returns; Virgin's UI was significantly different to other operators as a result. I think the importance of this cannot be understated.
Yes, that's what I meant.
 

Bletchleyite

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I thought that since the change from Saver Returns to Off Peak Returns, BoJ is allowed on both legs of an Off Peak Return, unless explicity restricted by the Restriction Code (which I think is relatively rare)
Very common. Some TOCs, such as WMT, do it on all their priced dedicated fares. They even created a new ticket type to save them doing it in the restriction code.

This change would have to come with BoJ allowed on all walk-up tickets without exception.

Regarding the possibility that you might come home early from a longer trip where you want reservations, say, I suppose you could just refund the original and repurchase. If this came with removal of the admin fee then there would be no real downside of this other than overnight BoJ, and some advantages e.g. not being restricted to returning within a month.
 

Smylers

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On the outbound portion of an Anytime Day Return from Paddington to Hayes & Harlington, I alighted at Ealing Broadway to perform a brief errand, then attempted to re-enter the station 5–10 minutes later.

The ticket barriers didn't accept my ticket, and nor did the member of staff at the barriers with the magic pass for the wide gate. They were adamant that my ticket wasn't valid.
I don't know the layout at Ealing Broadway. Is the gateline staffed by TfL Rail or LU?
Sorry, I'm not sure. I presumed it was a rail person I was speaking to, but perhaps not. Also sorry for not replying sooner: I've had this tab open for ages meaning to get round to it.
Or maybe it's been so long since they last saw an Anytime Day Return ticket for that journey, they just clean forgot. Oyster/Contactless is so much cheaper
You're right; that is odd. Thinking about it some more, it was probably actually a Leeds–Hayes & Harlington return ticket I was trying to break on the first day of my trip down in London, and which was denied when I attempted re-entry. It was definitely a paper ticket. Apologies again.

Anyway, it's only one anecdote, but it is an instance of not being allowed to break a journey and having to pay a second time.
 

Tetchytyke

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If a walk up single is now 50% cheaper, then you don't lose flexibility as you don't have to buy your return ticket at the same time as your outbound ticket. Simply buy your return ticket when you know when you want to travel.

Unless I've misunderstood something about the trial?
 

yorkie

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If a walk up single is now 50% cheaper, then you don't lose flexibility as you don't have to buy your return ticket at the same time as your outbound ticket. Simply buy your return ticket when you know when you want to travel.

Unless I've misunderstood something about the trial?
  • You lose the flexibility to pay a reduced price for travel at 'off peak' times (e.g. arriving into KGX around 1030 and departing around 1800)
  • You lose the flexibility to break your journey overnight on the return portion
  • You lose the flexibility to book your ticket and not worry about when you are returning (this can be useful if you are getting a ticket on expenses; you may need to get the expenses approved and tickets purchased before you embark on the trip).
It's great to offer half price Super Off Peak Singles. Withdrawing the Super Off Peak Return was questionable, but withdrawing the Off Peak Return without offering an Off Peak Single is a fare increase for anyone who is not "in the know". Savvy customers can still buy returns by booking to somewhere like Kentish Town!
 

Belperpete

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It's great to offer half price Super Off Peak Singles. Withdrawing the Super Off Peak Return was questionable, but withdrawing the Off Peak Return without offering an Off Peak Single is a fare increase for anyone who is not "in the know". Savvy customers can still buy returns by booking to somewhere like Kentish Town!
Until the trial is deemed a success and rolled out nationally.

I don't really understand why they seem to be abandoning the Off Peak fare as part of this trial. The OP fare allows a transition between the often astronomical anytime fare and the reasonably priced SOP, avoiding an empty last Anytime-fared train and gross overcrowding on the first SOP train.

Having said that, where I live now, we already seem to have a simplified fare structure, as TfW trains all seem to be Off Peak, with no Anytime or Super Off Peak fares. However, the discounts on longer distance journeys make split-ticketing unviable, for example, travelling from Birmingham to London and back adds just an extra £14 to the cost of a return to Birmingham. It also incentivises break of journey rather than buying separate tickets, so loss of this facility would have a serious impact if this trial were rolled out here.
 

Bletchleyite

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I don't really understand why they seem to be abandoning the Off Peak fare as part of this trial. The OP fare allows a transition between the often astronomical anytime fare and the reasonably priced SOP, avoiding an empty last Anytime-fared train and gross overcrowding on the first SOP train.
Yes, I find that utterly bizarre. I wonder if its abolition was the only way to make it revenue neutral, because some would now pay more? Surely that should simply have existed as an Off Peak Single at half its previous return price, otherwise, to smooth the shoulder peak.

Having said that, where I live now, we already seem to have a simplified fare structure, as TfW trains all seem to be Off Peak, with no Anytime or Super Off Peak fares. However, the discounts on longer distance journeys make split-ticketing unviable, for example, travelling from Birmingham to London and back adds just an extra £14 to the cost of a return to Birmingham. It also incentivises break of journey rather than buying separate tickets, so loss of this facility would have a serious impact if this trial were rolled out here.
All regional fares used to be like that - the Off Peak (SVR) was a saver because it was cheaper than two Anytime Day (Standard Day) Singles, not because it had any restrictions (other than no BoJ on the outward). It was the most expensive fare on many flows, the Anytime Day (Standard Day) Return if it existed was usually cheaper.
 
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