Milton Keynes to London Terminals flow question

yorkie

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In the fares data, the inter-available flow is set by West Midlands Trains (TOC code "LBR" in fares data, though the more common code for this TOC is of course "LM", as per the timetable data)

Note that West Midlands Trains uses the branding London Northwestern Railway (LNR) along this route, but for simplicity I will refer to them as WMT in this post.

So, in theory, as the inter-available fare setter, WMT shouldn't be able to set their own dedicated fares, yet they do. I am well aware this isn't a new thing, and WMT did not create these fares; the previous franchise holder (London Midland) had them too.

So my first question is: When were these dedicated fares created?

And my second question: Does anyone have any information regarding an exemption that allows the lead operator to set dedicated fares, and are there any other exemptions in place? Does anyone know the wording of these exemptions?
 
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Bletchleyite

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I believe the reason for this is that until the major timetable changes of the mid-2000s, Virgin Trains operated most fast services between MKC and Euston so they were the fare setter, and so Silverlink could create dedicated fares. I'm fairly sure these have been around since the early days of Silverlink. When the timetable changed and Silverlink then LM became the main operator, the fare setting moved across. At that point VT could (and did) create their own dedicated fares. Silverlink/LM could keep their existing ones but not add any new ones, hence why they don't have, for example, a dedicated Anytime fare.
 

yorkie

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Very interesting; would there not be an obligation to abolish the dedicated fares once 'ownership' was transferred from VT?

Can an operator continue to set dedicated fares on any flow on that basis, even though they would no longer be able to create new ones?
 

Bletchleyite

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Very interesting; would there not be an obligation to abolish the dedicated fares once 'ownership' was transferred from VT?

Can an operator continue to set dedicated fares on any flow on that basis, even though they would no longer be able to create new ones?
I believe they can retain (and change the price of) any existing fare they had already under "grandfather rights". I don't have a reference proving it, however. In my understanding, if they got rid of it they could not bring it back.
 

Ianno87

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I believe the reason for this is that until the major timetable changes of the mid-2000s, Virgin Trains operated most fast services between MKC and Euston so they were the fare setter, and so Silverlink could create dedicated fares. I'm fairly sure these have been around since the early days of Silverlink. When the timetable changed and Silverlink then LM became the main operator, the fare setting moved across. At that point VT could (and did) create their own dedicated fares. Silverlink/LM could keep their existing ones but not add any new ones, hence why they don't have, for example, a dedicated Anytime fare.
I want to say it was the September 2004 change.... that's when the concept of barring Euston<>MK journeys in the peak first came about.
 

Starmill

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The claim has been made that the fares are permitted by a specific exemption which is renewed, or at least was once being renewed, at every fares round. Note that they didn't add an Anytime Day Single, Return or Travelcard, only the existing Off Peak Day Return and Travelcard, compared to Avanti who have added and changed Anytime and Season products. Of course, WMT recently converted the CDR / ODT fares into Super Off Peak equivalents so presumably if that story was ever true it's now out of date.

I think it’s more likely to be the original agreements have been lost or forgotten about, and because this is an odd case the historical position is permitted to continue.

See also Penrith to Carlisle where CrossCountry never let go of the fares, which oh so conveniently permits both incumbents to set their own dedicated options. Cheeky cheeky.

It's not at all a common situation for there to be a genuine price competitive long-term option from the actual hegemon either. This is one rare such case, although it has seriously unbalanced the market by charging much too great a premium for inter-availability, which is precisely the thing which the regulations were intended to prevent.

One thing that is for sure is that the fares pre-date London Midland, as others have said.
 
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Bletchleyite

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Of course, WMT recently converted the CDR / ODT fares into Super Off Peak equivalents
...from every single one of their stations...except MKC where the old structure remains for the dedicated WMT fares.

This backs up the idea that they can only have what they already had.

Edit: they have now changed that over too - they hadn't as of the last fares round. I wonder if it's all been forgotten or they're just trying it on now?

Edit edit: sort of. There is now no Off Peak Day Return or Travelcard route LNR Only, only a Super Off Peak (which sort of fits as Off Peak and Super Off Peak are basically considered two levels of the same fare). So it's still different from every other station.
 
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Starmill

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...from every single one of their stations...except MKC where the old structure remains for the dedicated WMT fares.

This backs up the idea that they can only have what they already had.

Edit: they have now changed that over too - they hadn't as of the last fares round. I wonder if it's all been forgotten or they're just trying it on now?

Edit edit: sort of. There is now no Off Peak Day Return or Travelcard route LNR Only, only a Super Off Peak (which sort of fits as Off Peak and Super Off Peak are basically considered two levels of the same fare). So it's still different from every other station.
It's a Super Off Peak Return, i.e. a period return, unlike the other new fares which are Super Off Peak Day Return.

It's designed to compete with the Avanti Super Off Peak Return, which is also not a day return.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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... and this is why TOC’s shouldn’t be allowed to set fares, that should be left to the Department for transport.
In which case you can kiss goodbye to all the discounted non-regulated fares. The price of a day trip to London would more than double for many journeys. Be careful what you wish for...
 

Thomas31

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In which case you can kiss goodbye to all the discounted non-regulated fares. The price of a day trip to London would more than double for many journeys. Be careful what you wish for...
How many of those are there though? I can personally only think of three: London-Birmingham, London-Brighton and London-Cambridge.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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How many of those are there though? I can personally only think of three: London-Birmingham, London-Brighton and London-Cambridge.
The only regulated fares are interavailable season tickets, Anytime Day Returns and Off-Peak Returns (or their local equivalents). All other cheaper fares could be withdrawn if you were to go down to purely what's regulated. Of course the whole concept of fares regulation is pretty meaningless under the current management contract arrangements.
 

35B

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In which case you can kiss goodbye to all the discounted non-regulated fares. The price of a day trip to London would more than double for many journeys. Be careful what you wish for...
Agree completely; trusting a government department to make what are commercial decisions is asking people to work well outside their natural domain.
 

Starmill

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How many of those are there though? I can personally only think of three: London-Birmingham, London-Brighton and London-Cambridge.
Many thousands? Although even this is not actually a good description on the basis that regulation would be rendered nugatory if the Department controlled prices itself.
 

Bletchleyite

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The only regulated fares are interavailable season tickets, Anytime Day Returns and Off-Peak Returns (or their local equivalents). All other cheaper fares could be withdrawn if you were to go down to purely what's regulated. Of course the whole concept of fares regulation is pretty meaningless under the current management contract arrangements.
I cannot possibly conceive the abolition of Advances even under a fully nationalised fare system.

SNCF, for instance, basically only sells Advances on their high speed stuff. And they're very much part of the French civil service in terms of the culture.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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I cannot possibly conceive the abolition of Advances even under a fully nationalised fare system.

SNCF, for instance, basically only sells Advances on their high speed stuff. And they're very much part of the French civil service in terms of the culture.
I don't think that controlled-availability fares, whatever name they are given, are going away any time soon. Certainly not on the intercity railway. Cheap, flexible fares such as Off-Peak Day Returns (esp. in areas like the southwest where many have been cut over recent years, despite service improvements) are at the greatest risk.

Comparisons with overseas railways are pretty meaningless, since we have a completely different attitude to public transport more akin to the Americans. Certainly no other country has attempted to cut subsidy by driving up fares in real terms in quite the same way that we have.
 

thedbdiboy

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They were created in around 2003 (I can't remember exactly when) in accordance with clause 4-25 (1) (e) of the TSA when the SRA gave Silverlink permission as Lead Operator to set up dedicated walk-up fares even though Silverlink were Lead Operator, because of Virgin's enhanced service. As I understand it, the DfT don't have the audit trail for this so it does exist as an anomaly. But then again, the DfT effectively regulates itself as far as fares are concerned so as with so many other inconsistencies there is very little incentive to address it.
 

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