Preston/Lancaster pricing shenanigans

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by ChrisD4, 3 Jan 2017.

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  1. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    Of course the OP isn't using "a different service", at least if they are using a walk-up ticket with no seat reservation. They are making a different journey, on the same service.

    Non-stop trains between London and Warrington (and vice versa) are by far the most frequent VTWC services to be standing room only. This is not surprising when, on "peak" trains running to/from Glasgow, perhaps half of those on board are travelling on off-peak tickets.

    The London to Holyhead route similarly has (virtually) no evening peak restrictions for stations west of Chester, but at least these service are formed of double-Voyagers and, even when the front unit is standing room only (as is usually the case), the rear unit which terminates at Chester has a good number of seats available for passengers travelling to Chester, who pay over triple the price of an equivalent walk-up passenger to Flint. VTWC don't do a good enough job of forcing passengers with off-peak tickets from London to North Wales to occupy the front unit, even if they have to stand (it is merely a reflection of demand versus the capacity available), but they do a reasonable job of it.

    A peak single to Preston is quadruple the price of an off-peak single to Lancaster, which means that one walk-up Preston passenger is paying the same amount as four walk-up Lancaster passengers. If Lancaster passengers really do form such a small proportion of passengers on board "peak" VTWC trains from London calling at Lancaster as is claimed (e.g. 30), why aren't Lancaster passengers charged peak fares so that, even if only 8 additional passengers now pay for a peak fare (regardless of whether they are travelling to Warrington, Wigan, Preston or Lancaster), more revenue is generated for VTWC overall and more seats are available for passengers travelling to Warrington, Wigan and Preston?
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2017
  2. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    I don't agree with that. A passenger is entitled to combine one ticket with another ticket, whether a ranger or a walk-up single, and changing from one ticket to another is not a break of journey.

    The simple solution from VTWC's perspective would be to apply the same off-peak restrictions to Lancaster tickets as are applied to Preston tickets.
     
  3. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    To be pedantic, what you're describing may well be somewhat sensible, but it is not 'exponential'. Exponential would be like, for every extra 20 miles you travel you double the fare. And that would be truly, utterly, bonkers!

    I actually suspect a system that looks completely fair by mileage would be impossible - there are too many places where lack of direct routes, or presence of alternative routes would muck up either the consistency or the fairness of any attempted system.

    For example, in an ideal world, how would you price a Brighton to Crowborough ticket? By likely actual travelled distance or by as-the-crow-flies distance to the destination? Should it be more or less expensive than a ticket from Brighton to Oxted (for which the person is on the train for a shorter distance but actually going to a destination that's considerably further away - and therefore you could argue is getting much more utility from the ticket).

    Or - in an ideal world, should Horsham to Worthing be cheaper or more expensive than Horsham to Shoreham? After all, depending on your route, you could reasonably reach either destination via the other one!

    There are many 'bonkers' aspects of the current ticketing system, though I'm not sure that the particular example of this thread, in which off-peaks from London are only allowed on certain trains if travelling to Lancaster or beyond is really bonkers - since there do appear to be legitimate demand-management reasons for that. (Although I can see that that must be incredibly frustrating for someone travelling to Preston).
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2017
  4. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I think it is technically within the rules but I can see it not being liked at all if it was discovered, and the purchase of the ticket could not be seen as anything other than an attempt at using a 'loophole'. It is contentious.

    The Lancaster ticket is less contentious; you may have a a legitimate reason to want to go to Lancaster (e.g. to attend a meal or family gathering) before returning to Preston, and plans may change. Also there is no dispute that the combination is valid to Preston, and the fare paid is appropriate for a London to Preston journey (including a double back via Lancaster).

    I could give other reasons why I'd suggest the Lancaster solution, rather than the Wigan one, but I'll just quote this post:

     
  5. daodao

    daodao Member

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    It would still be fraud, but might be difficult for RPIs at Preston to detect.

    The whole point of the thread is surely to illustrate a ticket anomaly, of which there are many. There used to be a similar anomaly on the evening peak train from Paddington to Carmarthen for journeys beyond Swansea.

    The sooner that there is a move back to distance-based pricing, the better. In addition, trains should be designated as wholly off-peak or peak with respect to ticket restrictions for each segment of the trip. However, split-ticketing can often reduce the price and minimise the effect of peak fares, particularly where there are intermediate stops beyond which journeys are not subject to peak restrictions.
     
  6. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm up for another distance-based pricing proposal thread :D

    Let's not discuss it further here. Click the "New thread" icon in this section and start with:
    Once the thread has been made, I will come up with some more questions ;)
     
  7. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    They should try to eliminate the more extreme examples like the one under discussion so as not force people to consider looking for loopholes and as a consequence possibly getting into trouble for doing so!
     
  8. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    No chance!:lol: However, if they were forced to do so, they would typically abolish the cheaper fares (except in Scotland, where the policy is more sensible ;))
     
  9. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Here you go: New thread to discuss distance pricing and other relevant matters is here
     
  10. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    They could. But then the fare-avoider's attention moves to Oxenholme or wherever. And there comes a point where those restrictions will mean you actually can't make the journey unless you leave before 3pm - you'd run out of trains otherwise - which is where my "capping" suggestion came in.
     
  11. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    So you have a Euston to Glasgow train that leaves Euston at the end of the peak and gets to, say, Carlisle, after 2100. Should someone wanting to travel Carlisle-Glasgow need an Anytime Single even though the train is half empty?

    Therein lies the problem.
     
  12. daodao

    daodao Member

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    I said that trains should be designated as wholly off-peak or peak with respect to ticket restrictions for each segment of the trip. For the example quoted, all journeys between Euston and Preston should be peak rate, but this would not apply to the segment Preston-Glasgow. This would ensure that all passengers boarding at Euston have to hold a ticket valid at peak times, but would not apply once the train had become emptier beyond Preston.
     
  13. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    I think that may be part of the solution. But it still leaves long distance passengers very strongly motivated to avoid peak trains leaving London, which then causes problems for the later/earlier trains they transfer too.

    I suspect another part of the problem here is that peak tickets are priced ridiculously more expensive than off-peak tickets on this route. That's of course done in order to manage demand on a line for which there is insufficient capacity at the London end. I wonder if one solution would be to build a relief line - say between London and Crewe - that would provide more capacity at that end of the WCML. I know it would be very expensive, but is it possible that the Government just might be persuaded to do something like that? :)
     
  14. daodao

    daodao Member

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    HS2 - yes it has a case for this very reason between London and Crewe, but extensions to M/c and beyond, and the eastern leg via the East Midlands to the West Riding, are a white elephant.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    So, what's needed is more "split ticketing"?

    And would the rail industry have to offer the cheapest split without the customer prompting?

    If so, that would be great news for Trainsplit.com :lol:
     
  16. daodao

    daodao Member

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    No. In the example under discussion, the peak fare from London to Lancaster should be the sum of the peak fare from London to Preston and the off-peak fare from Preston to Lancaster. There would then be no advantage from split-ticketing.
     
  17. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Except there are then two peaks - a morning "expensive" peak and an evening "cheaper" peak.

    This kind of thing is just going to confuse people. It could be done with Anytime, Off Peak and Super Off Peak, and perhaps that is the answer, but beyond those three levels it just gets silly.

    If you're going to do that kind of aggregated pricing, and it is an option, I can't see how you could do it without being confusing unless you abolished all walk-ups except Anytimes, which would mean the calculations would just go on in the background for each train and pop up as a price when you buy.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2017
  18. pauldavies83

    pauldavies83 Member

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    So, to ask a slightly different question, but along the same lines (off-peak rather than advance)

    If I wanted to travel from Wigan to London tomorrow at 08:09 (on the train which left Lancaster at 07:38 - off peak), could I buy an "off-peak return" from Lancaster->London and join at Wigan outbound and leave at Wigan on the return?

    It says break-of-journey allowed unless a restriction code applies, but it's not overly clear where I would find said restriction code.
     
  19. island

    island Established Member

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    And at that point, having made the peak fare even more expensive than it already is, the 1530 to 1830 Euston to Glasgow Central/Edinburgh/Lancaster services consist of 11 coaches of fresh air and the 1430/1443/1930 services become unusably crowded.

    Try again.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2017
  20. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    How is that any different to today with restrictions such as 'Not valid on trains timed to arrive at x before...' or 'Not valid on trains timed to leave y before/after...'?
     
  21. ChrisD4

    ChrisD4 Member

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    It's not a 'coincidence'. It's a decision by the rail firm to stop that train at Preston. And a decision by the same rail company to charge people more money for a shorter trip.

    When you get on the 16.30 Euston service to Glasgow, it's still the 16.30 Euston service to Glasgow at Preston, and still the 16.30 Euston service to Glasgow when we get to Lancaster.
     
  22. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    When you pay your fare you enter into a contract to be carried from Point A to Point B, the fact that the train you are on happens to continue on to stop at Point C, and that Point C happens to be further away from A than B is an accident of geography, nothing more.

    If you were comparing Advance tickets then your argument might hold some water - as it happens, the highest tier of standard class Advance fare is £148 to both Lancaster and Preston, per BRFares.com.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2017
  23. ChrisD4

    ChrisD4 Member

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    Mischief-making maybe, but I feel the whole situation is akin to going to a restaurant, ordering a set three-course meal, leaving before dessert, and being charged more for eating less.
     
  24. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    That's actually an apt analogy - in most cases the items on the three-course menu are also on the ala carte menu at a slightly higher price. Since you didn't order all three courses then you have to pay the ala carte prices. (And I've forced down desserts that I didn't want in order to save some money!)
     
  25. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    It's more like being told the 3-course set menu of prawns, steak, and ice cream is £20, but you don't want the dessert.

    However the prawns and steak you want, separately, cost a total of £25, so you have to order the set menu and waste the dessert.

    We could do analogies all day, but welcome to demand-based pricing! I am honestly quite surprised that people do not realise this happens. This issue crops up quite a lot.

    Ultimately, a business will charge whatever they feel you are prepared to pay. A savvy shopper will look at loopholes and workarounds, and try to understand the business' thinking.

    You can either choose to view the Lancaster fare (plus ticket to exit at Preston) as a canny saving on your part, or view the Preston fare as a rip off. The choice of perception is entirely yours. :)
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I once recall, in a cheapo Greggs it'll-be-stale-soon outlet store thing that used to be near me when I lived in Manchester, iced buns (I think) being however much each, but if you bought 10 you got a heavy discount down to the price of about 6 (I think). There were 8 left, and the shop assistant insisted that this could not be done for the discounted price.
     
  27. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I did precisely that with Dominos Pizza last week. Potato wedges and garlic bread went in the bin (no actual use to me because they aren't gluten free), and them doing so saved me about £7 over just ordering the two pizzas.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2017
  28. ChrisD4

    ChrisD4 Member

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    Standard advance fare from Lancaster to London (January 10, 7.38am): £42.50
    Standard advance fare from Preston to London (January 10, 7.58am): £145
    Same. Train.

    Standard advance fare from Euston to Lancaster (January 10, 5.57pm): £83 (or £46 off peak)
    Standard advance fare from Euston to Preston (January 10, 5.57pm): £125
    Same. Train.

    It's a nonsense.
     
  29. daodao

    daodao Member

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    If that happened, the TOC could adjust prices of peak and off-peak tickets to balance out demand.
     
  30. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Businesses, of course, are very happy that people do not realise what they are doing. Recently, Morrisons were charging £1 for single tins of canned tuna but £3.97 for a pack of 3. I have no doubt that they managed to sell a number of 3-packs.
     
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