ORR release 'Fares and ticketing – information and complexity' report'

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cjohnson

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Press release is here; the full report (pdf) here.

Unsurprisingly, the ORR have found that it's Advance tickets, off-peak restrictions and TVMs which are found to be the most complex issues faced by passengers.

Few things of interest pulled out from it:

Of all rail passengers interviewed on-train, 70% were unaware that you can only travel on the specified train on an Advance ticket
Only 26% of all those interviewed in our study were confident what the off-peak times were
ATOC has accepted that the information provided to passengers during and after the sales process can be inadequate, particularly so in relation to those fares with more restrictions and at TVMs.
ATOCs plans in their response to the ORR include:
New Advance ticket layout – Advance tickets are tied to specific itineraries so require less information about options but more information about which services should be used. ATOC is designing a separate, specific format for these tickets that will assist customers in using these tickets correctly, and reduce the need for separate coupons for reservation details.
a database of route maps is being created so that route options can be shown on screen when passengers are planning their journey and choosing a ticket
A data file is being created for every station in Great Britain that will show which ‘London Terminals’ are valid on tickets from that station.
 
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Ferret

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Press release is here; the full report (pdf) here.

Unsurprisingly, the ORR have found that it's Advance tickets, off-peak restrictions and TVMs which are found to be the most complex issues faced by passengers.

Few things of interest pulled out from it:







ATOCs plans in their response to the ORR include:
I'm sorry, but that research is utter bull****. Surely it would be better to ask advance ticketholders whether they knew they could only use the booked train. That might be far more useful.
 

Yew

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It's a shame part of the advance ticket plans doesn't include a name change, so that people don't get confused between buying in advance and buying advance tickets. It good they are trying to make things simpler, however I'm worried if some unfavourable terms and conditions might sneak in alongside any changes :/
 

cjohnson

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I'm sorry, but that research is utter bull****. Surely it would be better to ask advance ticketholders whether they knew they could only use the booked train. That might be far more useful.
They did...

  • "Among those actually travelling on an Advance ticket, 37% did not realise that if they missed a train and travelled on a later train, they would normally have to buy a new ticket"
  • "64% of those who bought Advance tickets were not aware that they had to get off the train at the station named on the ticket."
 

snail

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They did...

  • "Among those actually travelling on an Advance ticket, 37% did not realise that if they missed a train and travelled on a later train, they would normally have to buy a new ticket"
  • "64% of those who bought Advance tickets were not aware that they had to get off the train at the station named on the ticket."
It really shouldn't be hard to print both those statement on the ticket or official itinerary. Would solve so many problems!
 

Ferret

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It really shouldn't be hard to print both those statement on the ticket or official itinerary. Would solve so many problems!
Well, I'm happy to concede point 2, but on point 1, it does clearly state on the ticket 'booked train only' so I find the outcome of the research somewhat staggering! Either somebody has produced some very flawed research or 37% of the railway's customer base managed to completely miss the part of their schooling where reading was being taught! Astounding.

Alternatively, can we deduce that people really do struggle with the concept of reading what it is they are agreeing to? In which case, what can the railway do about this, and should they even expend any energy trying?
 

AndyLandy

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I can see why people might not understand why 'travelling short' is against the rules, but 'booked train only' is 100% crystal clear in my eyes.
 

Oswyntail

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I can see why people might not understand why 'travelling short' is against the rules, but 'booked train only' is 100% crystal clear in my eyes.
So one might have thought - but the fact that a large percentage of those surveyed thought otherwise does suggest that there is something wrong (and not necessarily with the educational standards). As to what that might be, I seem to remember at least one thread going round that particular circle, so can we please take that as read.:roll:
 

AndyLandy

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So one might have thought - but the fact that a large percentage of those surveyed thought otherwise does suggest that there is something wrong (and not necessarily with the educational standards). As to what that might be, I seem to remember at least one thread going round that particular circle, so can we please take that as read.:roll:
Indeed. I'm happy to take it as read that this is the case, but I can't help but wonder why. It doesn't strike me as a particularly complicated rule, but you're quite right that all the evidence suggests that people just don't get it.

Anyway, this is probably a discussion for a different thread, so I'm going to leave it there.
 

LE Greys

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This just got onto You and Yours, which I was listening to because the cricket was rained off. People seemed to be worried that 'Booked Train Only' was not printed on the ticket (when it is). They were also worried that nobody knew when 'peak' and 'off-peak' changed. It seems what might be required is airline-sized tickets (which we had in APTIS days) with all the information printed on them and posters up, not just highlighted bits in the timetables, saying when off-peak tickets are not valid from that station.

Or perhaps a standardisation on the BR times for peak and off-peak accross the country.
 

dggar

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I think the name of either "Advanced" or "Anytime" should be changed to a name that does not begin with "A"


(just noticed Yew has beaten me to this suggestion)
 

WatcherZero

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This just got onto You and Yours, which I was listening to because the cricket was rained off. People seemed to be worried that 'Booked Train Only' was not printed on the ticket (when it is). They were also worried that nobody knew when 'peak' and 'off-peak' changed. It seems what might be required is airline-sized tickets (which we had in APTIS days) with all the information printed on them and posters up, not just highlighted bits in the timetables, saying when off-peak tickets are not valid from that station.

Or perhaps a standardisation on the BR times for peak and off-peak accross the country.
Problem with peak and offpeak is it varies around the country and even by station on the same line. Its not unreasonable to assume people wouldnt know.
 

wintonian

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Perhaps er should have something call an open (possibly peak and off peak varieties) return instead of an anytime return - an awful lot of people seem to think thats what its called anyway.

Sent from my HTC Desire S using Tapatalk 2
 

hairyhandedfool

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....It seems what might be required is airline-sized tickets (which we had in APTIS days) with all the information printed on them and posters up, not just highlighted bits in the timetables, saying when off-peak tickets are not valid from that station.....
It wasn't APTIS, it was something else....TRIBUTE?....ANyway Off-Peak restrictions don't just change by origin, or even by destination, but also by type of Off-Peak ticket. For example, an Off-Peak Return from Manchester to Liverpool is valid after 0830 Monday to Friday, but the Off-Peak Day Return isn't valid until 0930 Monday to Friday. I dislike the timetables that say certain trains are Off-Peak because they are only good for one ticket or maybe just local journeys, and I don't think posters will be any easier to produce if done that way.
 

sbt

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They were also worried that nobody knew when 'peak' and 'off-peak' changed. It seems what might be required is airline-sized tickets (which we had in APTIS days) with all the information printed on them and posters up, not just highlighted bits in the timetables, saying when off-peak tickets are not valid from that station.
There are NO 'highlighted bits in the timetables' at my local station. The only ways to find out if your specific train is 'Off Peak' is to ask, either at the station (which is staffed for only part of the day, with long queues common around the time when 'Off Peak' to various stations starts), phone SWT or use one of the online sites. You can find out, its not 'difficult', but its not 'easy', when it should be. Its not even signposted _how_ to find out - there is no indication that it is possible. It used to be simple, there used to be posters up but they were taken down many years ago.

I must admit to being one of those people who often buy an 'Anytime' ticket just in case, particularly if I am in a hurry.

The feeling I have as a passenger these days is that TOCs do only the minimum they are forced to to inform and explain to me about the validity of tickets and the cheapest way for me to travel. Then I am regularly subjected to 'You must have a valid ticket' announcements and posters highlighting the dire consequences of not having a valid ticket when I am left unsure just what a 'valid' ticket is.

I see lots of effort on enforcement and negligible effort on making it easy for me to get the correct ticket for my journey. Indeed I see obstacles placed in the way of making it easy to get the correct ticket (such as only selling Off Peak tickets after the end of the Peak) in the name of reducing fare evasion. I do not see any equivalent effort to do even the simplest things, like putting a poster up regarding Off Peak times, to make my task as a honest traveller easier.

Again I get the feeling, correct or not, that the TOCs regard all passengers as 'Fare Dodgers who just haven't been caught yet' and that its regarded as not worth making it easy for people to understand the system as they would only use the information to find new ways to cheat.
 

Failed Unit

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Problem with peak and offpeak is it varies around the country and even by station on the same line. Its not unreasonable to assume people wouldnt know.
It is worse than that, it depends on who sets the fare. Travel from Nottingham XCs restrictions are vastly different than EMTs. You could have someone travelling between Nottingham and Long Eaton on an EMT train getting stung by an RPI as XC set the fare and consider it peak!

I suspect if we normalise the restrictions, we would see massive real increases as the UK would move to XCs model.
 

sbt

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ANyway Off-Peak restrictions don't just change by origin, or even by destination, but also by type of Off-Peak ticket. For example, an Off-Peak Return from Manchester to Liverpool is valid after 0830 Monday to Friday, but the Off-Peak Day Return isn't valid until 0930 Monday to Friday. I dislike the timetables that say certain trains are Off-Peak because they are only good for one ticket or maybe just local journeys, and I don't think posters will be any easier to produce if done that way.
Then I think that, despite the TOCs argument that they need flexibility with regard to setting the limits of the Peak there should be limits to that flexibility. There must be _some_ limit placed on the complexity of the system.

In my opinion, if the restrictions at any particular station are to complex to put on a simple poster then they are to complex full stop and the TOCs should change their restrictions until they CAN be put on a poster.
 

bb21

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It is worse than that, it depends on who sets the fare. Travel from Nottingham XCs restrictions are vastly different than EMTs. You could have someone travelling between Nottingham and Long Eaton on an EMT train getting stung by an RPI as XC set the fare and consider it peak!
They cannot be "stung". The correct course of action for travelling at a barred time is an excess, not a new ticket (unless cheaper) or a Penalty Fare.
 

hairyhandedfool

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....In my opinion, if the restrictions at any particular station are to complex to put on a simple poster then they are to complex full stop and the TOCs should change their restrictions until they CAN be put on a poster.
The only real way to simplify to that extent is to have a blanket restriction, which is not very good for long distance travel.
 

island

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It wasn't APTIS, it was something else....TRIBUTE?....
The ticket type is called ATB, don't know about the system.
ANyway Off-Peak restrictions don't just change by origin, or even by destination, but also by type of Off-Peak ticket.
And by route! Just look at off-peak tickets from London Terminals to Milton Keynes C.
 

Skymonster

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They cannot be "stung". The correct course of action for travelling at a barred time is an excess, not a new ticket (unless cheaper) or a Penalty Fare.
Of course they're "stung"... I don't think it's unreasonable for casual passengers at a specific station to assume that if one TOC's off peak is valid from a particularly time then all other TOCs offpeak tickets are likely to be valid from that same time... So they're "stung" into paying more than they expected to pay.

Andy
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The only real way to simplify to that extent is to have a blanket restriction, which is not very good for long distance travel.
Indeed... And this off-peak / peak issue can give opportunity to the split ticketing malarky which the TOCs supposedly want to ban, where money can be saved on some journeys by splitting when part of the journey is in peak and requires an anytime ticket, and another part of the journey is in off peak

Andy
 

Class83

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People who don't get that 'advance' tickets are restricted need to read more carefully, I'm not a big fan of them, but it does say booked train/seat fairly quickly.

However, off-peak restrictions do need sorting, some of them are getting absurd. I'd suggest anything arriving before 0930 and anything departing between 1630-1830 would be sensible.


The more general problem is that rail companies seem to think that they're competing with airlines not private cars. Except for a few long distance services (mainly Scotland-London) they aren't so their ticket structure needs to reflect this.
 

Failed Unit

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I would prefer off peak to mean between 0730 and 0930, even pre 0800. Spread the demand. I have travelled on many early morning trains that are very empty. I know some companies do an early bird season, but most don't have an early morning off peak.

The XC situation is difficult, the blanket before 0930 is bad as it hits long distance travellers. But I guess if they had not before 0930 on Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester etc on specific tickets it may help, but maybe not as XC don't want Edinburgh - Penzance travellers going through Birmingham at 0930. But i know the 0807 departure is not that busy, and why is an Edinburgh - Plymouth passenger more wasteful on capacity than a Newcastle - Plymouth one on the exact same train!
 

island

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However, off-peak restrictions do need sorting, some of them are getting absurd. I'd suggest anything arriving before 0930 and anything departing between 1630-1830 would be sensible.
Welcome to the forum!

Arriving where before 0930? :)
 

bb21

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Of course they're "stung"... I don't think it's unreasonable for casual passengers at a specific station to assume that if one TOC's off peak is valid from a particularly time then all other TOCs offpeak tickets are likely to be valid from that same time... So they're "stung" into paying more than they expected to pay.
They are only paying the correct fare after all, so the word "stung" is a very strong term.

I agree that there are far too many different restrictions and it should be simplified, however that does not detract from the fact that they only paid what they should have paid from the beginning.

However, off-peak restrictions do need sorting, some of them are getting absurd. I'd suggest anything arriving before 0930 and anything departing between 1630-1830 would be sensible.
Then we have the same problem that XC created in that long-distance walk-up fares would be far too expensive if you want to arrive at the destination at a sensible time.

Restrictions should be simplified, but a uniform rule across board does not work.
 

sbt

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I think one thing to think about is how the current situation appears to the 'Casual Traveller'. There is a discount system in place that is sufficiently complex for them to be unsure of when it applies. This can leads to two things;

a) Journeys on which they are both asked to pay more than they had been led to expect and severely embarrassed in front of other passengers and the friends, family and/or children they are travelling with[1].

b) Journeys where the passengers knows that they probably paid more than they had to, despite the railway[2] advertising the availability of lower fares.

In either case the passenger is left with a perception of a railway that is acting remarkably like firms that use deceptive trading practices.

At bottom, what is the point of a system of lower fares intended to attract additional passengers to periods of lower demand if potential passengers are not able to easily find out when those periods are? Especially if those passengers that do make use of the system have experiences that put them off travelling again?

Yes, making the system less complex may well disadvantage those who are more regular travellers and know their way around the current system. But that is not the point of Off Peak fares and the majority of travellers do _not_ know their way around the current system and have no desire to learn when its much easier to simply start up the car and drive or not travel at all.

[1] Do not underestimate the impact of this, especially on perceptions of rail travel.

[2] And to a lot of passengers it is still all one 'railway', not a series of TOCs etc.
 

cuccir

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Restrictions should be simplified, but a uniform rule across board does not work.
In general, I agree. But with anytime/off-peak times, I think something needs to be done. There are a lot of absurd anytime/off-peak restrictions out there as well, often for technical reason that I don't quite understand to do with which fares are and aren't regulated!

I'd like to see a restricted range of possible off-peak times that TOCs could chose from for a flow - say 3 different variations (to pick a number at random). It would allow for some variation as appropriate to flow, but begin to simplify the situation.
 
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