My ideas for allowing TOCs to price components of a journey (effectively mandatory split ticketing)

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Bletchleyite, 6 Dec 2017.

  1. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Moderator note: Split from Routeing Guide Updates

    I think it's time for a complete change in how the Routeing Guide works. I get bored of "you can't go that way so ner", but I do understand and respect that TOCs don't like things that muck with pricing for niche requirements.

    An option would be to let TOCs price each bit how they like, and you buy a ticket that combines the legs to a through ticket via any route you like, yes, even, say, Penzance to Dover Priory via Wick. Effectively mandatory split ticketing.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 6 Dec 2017
  2. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I am sure train companies would love to change it, but NOT for our benefit. The TOCs with the highest fares absolutely want to prohibit reasonable routes which they have no control over, if the companies pricing those routes do not increase their fares at ludicrous rates. They would love to be able to say "you can't go that way so ner" even more often, and any changes instigated by RDG/TOCs will be detrimental to customers. Their view is that customers are there to be milked; there are too many customers and not enough seats, so anything they can do to price people off and ensure that fares are as high as possible and routes as inflexible as possible, they will do.
    How would that work? Perhaps you would like to give us an example using a route of your choice.

    Or perhaps we can start with York to Sheffield. What would that be made up of and what would the value of the component parts be?
     
  3. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'll have a play later on and post...I was going to split it off into a separate thread myself but I don't have time at the minute.
     
  4. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    Whilst I would welcome this idea to ensure the best value, frankly the entire network pricing policy, ticketing rules etc need completely reworking. You shouldn't need to faff about working the best split ticket options, even thought there are sites that identify the best. As suggested a passenger starting at any destination on the network should be able to book a ticket to any other part of the network, be given the best possible price on different legs (so like spilt ticketing but without the need for multiple tickets along the route) and a range of clear options, with the profits being split between operators depending on what the passenger chooses & a single ticket offered. Where I would go further would be to only work from a single ticketing portal, rather than the myriad of current online resources that currently exist. This would annoy the heck out of the TOCs, but hey isn't the railway network primarily to get us from A to B and back again and not to line their pockets with confusing fare options?
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I must admit I have started leaning towards the line that there should be a single railway ticketing contract rather than TOCs doing it, which indeed would have the National Rail site selling all tickets and no others allowed unless it was part of something else like a general travel booking site. The same company would provide ticketing equipment for use on-board and the TOC staff would be selling as an agent like easyJet cabin crew act as agents of GateGourmet when flogging overpriced coffee and bacon butties. They would also supply and maintain all TVMs and staff ticket offices where provided.

    TBH, you could cause that to happen naturally to some extent by removing commission from ticket prices completely, with the National Rail site costs being paid by the TOCs as part of the contract.
     
  6. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    Having a single contract & portal (which could still be accessible via individual TOC sites if needs be) would help to remove what is for the average punter at best a confusing myriad of search engines and booking systems that currently exist. It can be very difficult to gauge the best prices using either TOC owned, or third party systems without also comparing with the NR engine. Even well meaning sites dedicated to split ticketing don't always get things right, I've just checked one journey I have already booked travelling either side of Christmas (Leeds<>Warrington Central). The spilt site (trainsplit.com) for the times I need offered 1st Class return for 2 with railcard at £98.90, NR offers the same times at £86.90 and the Trainline site just falls over & plays dead! (I actually got it for just a tad over £60 booking just 3 days ago via NR/TPE!)

    No wonder people are confused for a simple journey option with no changes. Like you say, TOCs could easily make the extras through the bolt-on options that many airlines now thrive on.
     
  7. mallard

    mallard Member

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    Forcing passengers to book individual legs seperately can be seriously restricting on some routes. There are many journeys for which there's an infrequent "fast" service via a direct route with a high-frequency "slow" service via another route, even for reletively "local" journeys for which advance booking should not be necissary.

    If you're forcing people to choose a specific route at purchase time even for short day-trips when they don't know exactly what time they'll come home, how are they supposed to choose the correct route?

    Even worse, what happens on journeys where the "fast" service is frequent enough that it's the de-facto only service used, except that it ends earlier and late-evening connections use a different route?
     
  8. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    What woild this National Rail Enquiries site sell for Wallington to Burgess Hill travelling at 17:30 on a Wednesday evening?

    Currently the app wants you to use the tram but the tram isn't valid on a national rail ticket unless it's a travel card.

    It is valid to walk from West Croydon to East Croydon but the app ignores that as it would be considered slower. I don't know if it actually is slower but that irrelevant I guess. It'd also possible to change at Sellhurst or Norwood Junction but again those are slower routes.
     
  9. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Before you could price every possible leg, I think you'd have to make every possible junction a routeing point first.
     
  10. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    There's an interesting idea within this; pricing every station-to-station and then adding these up to get prices for a journey. It removes the need to have a huge database of ticket prices, and fares could be calculated via any route.

    You could even retaining routed tickets by having a rule that fares are always valid on cheaper routes.

    It would overcome some of the problems of mileage based systems as slower routes could be priced more cheaply...

    I mean there are a lot of things to work out, but in principle I can see how such a system would work.
     
  11. BigCj34

    BigCj34 Member

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    I was thinking that this does have similarities to kilometric pricing model, although each stretch of line between two stations can be classed as a 'pricing unit' that does not necessarily have to reflect the distance. It would allow higher demand areas to charge more if need be, and does have provision for cheaper advance options.

    I think the only downside the TOC's may see is that it would allow less flexibility with demand based pricing. It would not be possible to price a low-demand longer routes cheaper than a higher demand shorter ones, like being able to buy an off-peak ticket form Lancaster to Euston, but going from Preston to Euston is charged at an Anytime rate. On a similar note, say an advance ticket existed for a journey from A-D, adding up the journeys between A-B-C-D, a passenger making a local journey could get a very cheap fare from B-C for a local journey. No doubt passenger would not complain about that, though the TOC's will not be too happy!
     
  12. thedbdiboy

    thedbdiboy Member

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    The train companies are never going to be free agents to change things, it will need to be with consent of Government. However, you seem to forget that British Rail was free to set fares and routes as it saw fit and very often changed these to reflect patterns of demand. What is completely bonkers is the notion that the route and fare structure in place on 23 July 1995 should somehow be preserved for ever more with no change. There are many new routes and service options that have emerged since 1995 that should have been accompanied by changes to route permissions and the failure to do so has created anomalies that are then used as evidence of how daft the fares system has got.

    People want to and need to make journeys on the railways, route permissions are just a function of that need. There would be (and is) no impediment in the second decade of the 21st century in designing a structure that would calculate a fare for any given route option - the notion that one buys a ticket and then consults a guide to work out which way they can go is positively archaic. The notion that one buys a ticket, and then consults a guide to work out which ways that ticket can be used to undercut the price charged for a different journey is frankly insane......!
     
  13. JB_B

    JB_B Member

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    Sadly, it seems that they think they can do just that.

    Government is turning a blind eye.

    No doubt BR could set fares (and fare routeings) - however, having paid the fare, a BR passenger usually had the comfort of knowing that they could (unless prevented by the fare route) travel by any reasonable route - this isn't something we enjoy now.

    That sounds a bit like something Chris Grayling would say.

    It's not "bonkers" to hope that routes that were "reasonable routes" in BR times remain permitted routes now ( given that there have been effectively no closures since '96). The idea that "the route and fare structure in place on 23 July 1995 should somehow be preserved for ever more with no change" is of course absurd but that isn't the case. Ticket routeings , fares, route maps and restrictions are all in constant flux. Maybe it would be worth trying a fares workshop? The vast majority of routeing questions don't involve reference to 1996 fares - and to the limited extend they extent they do - they help preserve reasonable routes at the point. In the mean-time mapped route changes have eroded (and continue to erode) passenger choices.

    (This happens without consultation and apparently without any regulatory oversight.)
     
    Last edited: 7 Dec 2017
  14. thedbdiboy

    thedbdiboy Member

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    The distinction is between tinkering, and fundamental reform. Tinkering with routes goes on and I would agree that this is generally ignored but major changes (such as, for example, when BR split the London - Exeter 'Any Permitted' route into 'route Taunton' and 'route Honiton' in 1993) simply can't happen. If NSE had reopened the London - Snow Hill service under BR I can guarantee that the Chiltern route would have been split from the WCML route.

    Finally, your defence of Any Reasonable suggests that you have either forgotten or weren't old enough to remember exactly how it was enforced. Basically, it was up to the guard and if you strayed off a recognised core route you were at the mercy of their opinion - and if you found an anomaly, BR could summarily decide that what you had done was not reasonable. Indeed, if BR had survived, 'Any Reasonable' would not have been able to survive modern consumer legislation, and I suspect route permissions would be far more tightly defined than they are now.
     
  15. JB_B

    JB_B Member

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    That's a fair point - there is an advantage to a tighter definition (even though it's constantly changing) . I don't quite follow you re Chiltern, though, BR was running Marylebone - Snow Hill before privatisation.
     
  16. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    It maybe archaic and frankly insane but it's also fun working it all out.

    Pwehaos the Rail Delivery Group need a central tea of staff on a support help desk so that any member of staff working for the a TOC can ring up with a query and they will try to resolve it. It would be passenger here shay ticket is valid, can you please check. Here are all the exact details.

    I submit regular updates to a national body at work and if I need guidance on anything I drop them an e-mail or give them a call.
     
  17. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    I wonder how many junctions there are?
     
  18. thedbdiboy

    thedbdiboy Member

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    Snow Hill reopened in 1987 but the Marylebone - Birmingham service only commenced after BR and NSE had been split into the TOUs for privatisation, and the full service is a pure Chiltern Railways initiative.
     
  19. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    I don’t think @thedbdiboy needs a fares workshop. ;)
     
  20. JB_B

    JB_B Member

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    You could well be correct - I thought the TOUs started in April '94 and the Snow-hill Marylebone service started May '93 - well before the Railways Act received royal assent. ( I'm only quibbling because the opening of that route is sometimes specifically cited as an achievement of the privatised railway. )

    Given ...
    .. I can only apologise - I'd misunderstood the point you were making.

    Could you give some specific examples of what is wrong about the current setup - things that that operators would like to change (but can't) and which would be beneficial to passengers now?
     
  21. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    My recollection is that an hourly Marylebone - Birmingham service was introduced in 1994. Chiltern Railways did not start running the franchise until 1996.
     
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    So it's probably about time I got round to posting some ideas here. None are perfect, but then nor is the present system - quite the opposite.

    Option 1 - "Tariff kilometres"

    This would allow TOCs to set tariff kilometres between each pair of stations on their network. These aren't actual kilometres, but just a means of calculating fares. These would be summed up and passed into a function to calculate the fare, which could include factors like exponentials (to allow the fare to tail off over a given distance), minima etc.

    The problem with this is that it's a bit of a blunt instrument and doesn't allow as much commercial freedom as other systems, but it would near enough completely remove anomalies.

    Peak/off peak will always create anomalies, but could be done with a different multiplier of some kind.

    Option 2 - "Forced splits"

    TOCs price relations they operate, with Anytime and off-peak options, and when you buy a ticket you just split at the change points (but print it all on one ticket). Simpler than above, though wouldn't remove anomalies making splitting at points other than the change points cheaper.

    Option 3 - "zonal"

    A zonal system could be used to reduce the number of relations needing to be priced, but could work with systems like either of the above.

    How to avoid losing too much flexibility

    Obviously "explicit routeing" reduces flexibility, though SBB seem to work with it reasonably well. Single fare pricing is one way to avoid issues - if you don't know which way you're going to go, just hold off buying until you do know. Another would be to simplify excesses - just allow a single ticket to be traded in for any other at any point before the journey is completed (including on board) provided it has something in common (origin/destination) and provided the target ticket is valid for any part of the journey already completed. No reason we couldn't have "exchange machines" to do that like the French do.

    None of these are detailed designs for systems - I'm just playing with concepts.
     
    Last edited: 8 Dec 2017
  23. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    Would anytime be higher or lower than peak?
    Do SBB have any networks as complex as either South London or the Liverpool/Manchester/Leeds or Edinburgh/Glasgow corridors? There are times when people will go whichever way the first train that turns up goes.
     
  24. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    That's called "being half asleep".

    They do have a few cases of tickets being valid via 2 routes where this kind of thing happens. Though city networks are to some extent a different ball game, and may well be better priced zonally.
     
  25. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    As noted above, I'm quite attracted to this concept, at least in the context of time-wasting-internet-forum speculation. BigCj34 mentions a few objections above, but most of these could be overcome by keeping Advance fares separate from the pricing system. They could continue to be used to keep a level of demand management in.

    Indeed, one thing that I like about this is that one ticket could potentially have both peak and off-peak elements in it. To take someone travelling, for example, on a London to Blackburn ticket at 16:30: potentially, that could be priced using the 'Anytime' multiplier from London to Preston, and the 'Off-Peak' element between Preston and Blackburn.

    Routing issues could be resolved with the 'more expensive ticket valid on cheaper routes' principle.
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    TBH that causes so much trouble that I think it should go away anyway. Capping it out would be a better solution, i.e. making Lancaster the same price as Preston but *not* cheaper.
     
  27. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    This does not support the argument that journeys like Manchester to Newark should not be valid via Leeds. The Manchester to Nottingham service is even less attractive than it was (no more frequent, no faster, and suffering from overcrowding) while going via Leeds gives a more frequent service than ever before.

    So what you post above actually supports our argument that train companies are abusing their position and are making changes that are completely at odds with what is sensible and proportionate.
    It is totally wrong that people should have their rights removed in the way that is being done by RDG and the train companies. We should not be getting less flexibilities on routeing.
    But we are not going to let you get away with introducing any replacement scheme that costs us any more money than we currently pay.
    The notion that train companies can cause such anomalies by increasing the prices of some journeys by disproportionate rates is insane. If they then whinge when customers buy cheaper fares that have not risen as much, they should effectively be told to put up and shut up!
     
  28. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    If you want an example of insanity (and I could give many more), this is insane: York-to-worksop-rdg-again-denying-us-our-right-to-make-sensible-journeys

    The notion that one buys a ticket and then discovers they cannot make the journey using that ticket at a sensible time on a sensible itinerary... that is what is bonkers and insane. And that is entirely RDG's making (although the DfT are guilty of turning a blind eye and failing to adequately regulate).
     
  29. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    When example prices are suggested, I'll identify the flaws ;)
     
  30. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    To be fair, the only system that doesn't have anomalies is a simple kilometric one (potentially with tickets valid on shorter routes if paid for a longer one), but that wouldn't really be acceptable to anyone these days, TOC or passenger.
     

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