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Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by ChrisD4, 3 Jan 2017.
But they didn't charge you more for not eating the wedges and GB!
If you looked these up live then it's not a realistic comparison as there are multiple Advance fare levels for each station pair, with a limited number of tickets in each basket. It would be very surprising if Preston and Lancaster were both currently in the same basket.
If you want to make a comparison you need to use a site such as BRFares.com which allows you to compare the actual baskets rather than the tickets currently available.
As I said earlier, if you scroll down to the standard Advance tickets for Preston and Lancaster you'll see that the top three baskets are: £148 v £148, £145 v £146, £128 v £128.50. So Advance tickets to Lancaster are the same price or slightly more expensive than the comparable Advance ticket to Preston.
If you're going to get outraged, at least make sure you're not comparing apples to oranges.
But then it gets complicated and people get confused by it.
In essence, there are only two ways to genuinely simplify:
1. Go for a very simple pricing system like a kilometric one and accept that there will be some hefty increases as a result, as well as some heavy overcrowding.
2. Go reservations-compulsory and price each train in an airline-like manner, with splitting effectively mandatory - then you don't have to worry about how the fares are structured, just what price you are told on booking. Though this would not necessarily solve the Lancaster issue.
That is true.
And to continue the apple to apple comparison, the walk-up, Off Peak Single fares are £88.30 to Preston and £92.20 to Lancaster. The difference, of course, being the definition of peak - Preston has an evening peak, Lancaster does not.
Not really apples to oranges - it's the same train seat. I understand your point, but you can only book tickets 'live'. Why would I opt for a more expensive ticket when there's cheaper standard advance available?
Agree to disagree?
However, you are still able to get an off-peak fare on the same train for a station that's 15 minutes further away, while those with an off-peak Preston ticket have to wait another two hours to get home.
I'm aware of a restaurant in Holland that purports to charge people for wastage if they leave food behind from a package.
There are also anomalies where standard advance tickets are more expensive than first advance for the same train at the time of booking. I have twice taken advantage of this on journeys from Euston in the early evening.
It's apples to oranges in your original post as you are comparing different ticket types. If you want to get the cheaper London-Preston Advances you need to book Advance tickets as soon as they are released (normally 12 weeks out) so that you get access to the lowest tiers. Otherwise you have to take the best of what is left.
That's the whole idea of demand-based pricing.
The phenomenon happens because there is a large throughput of passengers at Preston. London-Preston and Preston-Scotland are significant and completely separate flows, so the TOC would rather like the seat free from Preston to sell - hence why this demand management tool is in place. That's why there is a visible premium in travelling to Lancaster.
The OP has found a way to circumvent the TOC's premium - I am sure we all have that lightbulb moment with various businesses once we work out their strategy and pick a hole in it.
Kings Cross to Edinburgh in the evening peak is a classic one. Last time I did it the Advance First was £119 and a Anytime Single was something like £145. Saved £20 and got a meal thrown in to the bargain.
If the trains ended up carrying "fresh air" (which they most certainly wouldn't), that would suggest that VTWC's pricing strategy is not working. Why charge extremely expensive peak fares if, as you claim, Warrington, Wigan and Preston passengers are not buying them?
I don't think anyone has suggested that the 15:30 and 18:30 shouldn't allow off-peak tickets to Carlisle and Glasgow, for example. The focus of this thread is on the 17:57, which terminates at Lancaster.
The TOC would like seats to be available from Preston so the TOC adopts a pricing strategy that encourages passengers to travel to (at least) Lancaster, thus ensuring that seats are not available from Preston? Surely I am not the only one to be confused by this logic?
But the premium is travelling to Preston. It's cheaper to stay in the seat and go further up the line to Lancaster, and in the process deny someone from Preston a seat up to Glasgow.
Pure and simple - Preston is busy, so we'll fleece them.
None of this is relevant. Advance fares are not sold if the walk-up fare is cheaper (as is true of almost all of VTWC's Advance fares between Crewe and Wolverhampton). The only trains on which the more expensive Lancaster Advance fares are applicable are the 09:07 Euston arrival and earlier. A passenger wishing to arrive on the 10:13 and depart on the 17:30 will purchase, if travelling from Lancaster, an off-peak return. A passenger travelling from Preston will purchase an anytime return.
Even if the passenger from Preston was willing to purchase Advance fares far ahead (which is not an appropriate comparison with a walk-up fully-flexible ticket), their combined cost would be greater than an off-peak return from Lancaster. VTWC does not have a policy on its London to Scotland route of offering very cheap Advance fares if booking far ahead - the cheapest Advance fare 12 weeks ahead tends to be the cheapest Advance fare 4 weeks ahead.
It's not apples and oranges if you take a step back back and look at what the passenger needs - to get from A to B on the same train in the same standard seat. That's the end goal.
Repeating the same point does not make London to Preston a divisible subsection of a London to Lancaster journey, any more than you can buy a 2-litre bottle of Coke in the supermarket (London to Lancaster SVS) and walk out with five cans (London to Preston journey). You can on the other hand buy a 6-pack of cans (London to Lancaster SOS) but it's going to cost more if you want to choose that option.
What is this? The "I can come up with a sillier analogy than you" thread?
It is a divisible subsection though. The train stops at Preston on the way to Lancaster. Lancaster is cheaper, yet further away. Daft analogy time again - It's like buying your six cans of coke, drinking five, and then being told to buy another five because you didn't finish them.
It's relevant to the idea that tickets to Preston are priced more expensive than tickets to Lancaster. If you compare like for like they are not.
In your original post you were comparing an Off Peak half fare to an Anytime fare - so apple and orange.
There are evening peak restrictions on journeys to stations south of and including point X on the WCML and not to those north of point X. You are just unfortunate that you want to travel to point X.
Looking at Advance fare tiers is a red herring, no more than it would be to suggest that off-peak returns from Lancaster and Preston are "like for like" when they have completely different restriction codes.
All a passenger cares about is the cost of making X journey. For any journey with an arrival at 10:00 or 11:00, and a departure between 15:30 and 18:30, the "like for like" comparison (a flexible walk-up fare) is the price of an off-peak return from Lancaster and the price of an anytime return from Preston.
I think we're talking at cross-purposes a bit, I apologise for not making my posts clearer.
I agree that for a specific service peak time rules will be different and the service the OP wants to use is one so affected. I was speaking to the general case and the idea that Preston passengers *always* pay more than Lancaster passengers.
Because the WCML is such a long route which serves as both a long-distance inter-city route linking Scotland to London and as a commuter route on its southern half the operator has to put measures in place to try to serve both masters.
So in the evening, VTWC use peak restrictions on the south WCML commuter market to try to spread demand out later, without penalising the long distance inter-city passenger who is heading to the North and Scotland.
So, as I tried to say in post #80 there are peak restrictions on fares to stations south of and including X and none on passengers heading north of X - where X happens to be Preston. This seems entirely reasonable as it means I don't have to wait until after 1844 to leave Euston on my off-peak ticket (which would make it impossible to get home that day).
You could make the argument that Lancaster is so close to Preston that it should be Point X - but as AlterEgo pointed out, Preston is 'significant' in Railway terms where Lancaster isn't - even if just in the fact that few (none?) VTWC trains pass Preston without stopping.
Ah, yes, my mistake - I got that the wrong way around. This appears to be a much simpler market based demand based on city pairs.
I might be a cynic, but I would write that as "VTWC use peak restrictions on the south WCML commuter market so that they can charge higher fares to those who will pay them, while not scaring away the longer-distance passenger who may otherwise fly because an affordable fare could not be purchased to travel that evening".
The present peak/off-peak has nothing whatsoever to do with loadings and everything to do with differentiated pricing. If it was to do with loadings, Sunday from about 1200-2000 would be Anytime only, as would all of Friday evening.
Probably because you are (or were) the commuter (aka the loser), where I am the long-distance passenger heading to Scotland (aka the winner).
I've been both (and of course MKC has no evening peak restrictions northbound anyway - it is, AIUI, a condition of the VTWC franchise agreement that these must not be imposed).
 While the use of u/s prevents combining tickets on the same train, someone with an hour to spare to take a slower train could quite easily split tickets *and* their journey at MKC, travelling there on LM, and save money that way.
Am I missing something in this discussion?
It's circa £95 for a walk up any route off-peak return from Lancaster to London (divided by 2 for the saver half).
That's the nub of the OP's point isn't it?
It's not an advance fare, so why wouldn't you be able to start short and end short?
Because you can't.
If you could then everyone would.
If that was true, this thread would never have happened. For a number of reasons, most people will buy a ticket between their origin and destination, however much the alternatives cost.