Pricey food outlets at stations

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Gathursty

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I used Wigan North Western earlier this week and noticed a Cafexpress (those that tend to be at principal TPE stations) I was opposite Pumpkin at the time. I think both of these outlets are pretty poor value compared to The Station Cafe 200m up the road.

Any one have any examples of poor value for money at the side of the platform?

You may also include examples such as cafes, pubs or restaurants that make up the station building/concourse (ie: Dingwall, Pembroke Dock, Stalybidge etc...)
 
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30907

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Wouldn't it be quicker to ask for outlets that are GOOD value compared to establishments 200m away? Surely it's normal to charge what the market will bear?
 

deltic

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Are station catering outlets any more expensive than the same brands on the high street? I used to buy sandwiches from Pret regularly and noticed that the same sandwiches were 50p more at Stansted airport but have not noticed anything similar at stations
 

thenorthern

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Sainsbury's at Manchester Piccadilly isn't too bad in my experience the prices are the same as other Sainsbury's. On goods that aren't a set price (such as Newspapers or Fredos) the WH Smiths at stations seem expensive mind you I rarely shop at WH Smiths in the High Street as they are quite expensive.

With motorway services the reason they are expensive is they have to be open 24 hours per day, provide free parking for two hours and free toilets. I never understand why station shops are so expensive though other than the fact that they hold a monopoly.
 

crispy1978

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Sainsbury's at Manchester Piccadilly isn't too bad in my experience the prices are the same as other Sainsbury's. On goods that aren't a set price (such as Newspapers or Fredos) the WH Smiths at stations seem expensive mind you I rarely shop at WH Smiths in the High Street as they are quite expensive.

With motorway services the reason they are expensive is they have to be open 24 hours per day, provide free parking for two hours and free toilets. I never understand why station shops are so expensive though other than the fact that they hold a monopoly.

Ditto Sainsburys at Leeds, and the 'Spoons at Leeds isn't too bad either compared with the Yorkshire Rose or whatever it's called.

I tend to find Pumpkin, Costa, Starbucks et al are similar to the town centre outlets. It's the likes of KFC, McDS, BK, Subway, etc which inflate their prices.

I guess the rent these places get charged is fairly premium, hence the increased prices?
 

Bevan Price

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Chain takeaways (McDonalds, etc. ) seem to charge around 50p per item more at stations than at their other shops. Do they have to pay higher rents at stations ?
 

Iskra

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Sainsbury's at Manchester Piccadilly isn't too bad in my experience the prices are the same as other Sainsbury's. On goods that aren't a set price (such as Newspapers or Fredos) the WH Smiths at stations seem expensive mind you I rarely shop at WH Smiths in the High Street as they are quite expensive.

With motorway services the reason they are expensive is they have to be open 24 hours per day, provide free parking for two hours and free toilets. I never understand why station shops are so expensive though other than the fact that they hold a monopoly.

There is still an element of profiteering with motorway service stations, trust me. They know people will pay it and have virtually no practical competition. Notice how the prices are fixed between the brands too. The only thing reasonably priced on motorways are M&S and Greggs IMO.

At railway stations, Costa is the same price as normal, Greggs are too at my local station, WHSmiths however is a rip off.
 

Merseysider

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The MtoGo outlet at Lime Street is effectively a low-medium price newsagent; far cheaper than the overpriced WHSmith upstairs. The spoons is decent, but expensive compared to the others in the city centre.
thenorthern said:
Sainsbury's at Manchester Piccadilly isn't too bad in my experience the prices are the same as other Sainsbury's.
I'd agree with that. I guess Sainsbury's can't push prices up too much or they'd lose custom to the host of other stores (Waitrose, Co-op, several newsagents and a mini Tesco) just outside the station.
 

47271

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I used Wigan North Western earlier this week and noticed a Cafexpress (those that tend to be at principal TPE stations) I was opposite Pumpkin at the time. I think both of these outlets are pretty poor value compared to The Station Cafe 200m up the road.

Any one have any examples of poor value for money at the side of the platform?

You may also include examples such as cafes, pubs or restaurants that make up the station building/concourse (ie: Dingwall, Pembroke Dock, Stalybidge etc...)

I'm pretty much resigned to pricey outlets on stations, but as far as train changes at Wigan NW are concerned, forget the Pumpkin, for a great pint and pork pie turn left onto the road out of the front door, head through the bridge and turn left, they even have departure boards for NW and Wallgate to keep you right.... www.wigancentral.bar
 

LowLevel

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Miserable beggars don't accept Bitecards or give Railway staff discount like they used to (at Shrewsbury)

Even more irritating given they're franchises operated by SSP who operate Pumpkin, Jam Jar, formerly Lemon Tree etc. They just go through periodical re-branding. In turn SSP is the privatised BR Travellers Fare and until fairly recently had a semi monopoly in many locations. I have little time for them as an organisation.
 

Bob Ames

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I used Wigan North Western earlier this week and noticed a Cafexpress (those that tend to be at principal TPE stations) I was opposite Pumpkin at the time. I think both of these outlets are pretty poor value compared to The Station Cafe 200m up the road.

Yes, The Station Cafe is pretty good (and less than 100 m away :) ) but in defense of the platform outlets, there is nothing else open if you are starting early (e.g. 1K14, 1S34 etc.). I would imagine that the staff appreciate them (I often see dispatchers buying coffee from them).
 

Ianigsy

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I remember being in Nottingham one day, taking a sandwich which appeared to be marked at £1.85 to the till in Pumpkin and being told "no, it's £2.85, it's just printed badly".

As it was, I still had my NET day ticket so I caught the tram a couple of stops up the road and found that Boots had started marking the sandwiches down to £1 and 50p each...

Now I come to think of it, Boots at Manchester Piccadilly was marking the sandwiches down to 50p on a Saturday afternoon a couple of months ago. I would guess that if you go to Boots or Sainsbury's or M&S on a station, you're probably a regular user of that chain's other outlets so you have a fair idea of what their pricing structure normally is. With something like sandwiches which are probably made the day before and where the price is printed on the packet, it may also not be feasible to have two separate streams for the High Street shops and the concessions as well.
 

Andrewlong

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I have found food prices at the Marks and Spencer in Reading station to be about 10-20% higher than in the high street. I suspect a combination of high rates in the station and a captive market of passengers wanting to buy lunch/evening meals.
 

John Luxton

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Today for £7 at Carrog Station I bought one tea, one coffee (served in proper mugs) one slice of carrot cake and a corned beef and branston pickle bap.

Seemed pretty good value
 

thenorthern

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Worst one is vending machines which in theory are cheaper to operate than shops but charge crazy amounts for things.
 

SeanG

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Is there a guide, on this forum by way of a thread, or elsewhere, giving an effective list of where to go nearby major stations?
 

Bald Rick

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With motorway services the reason they are expensive is they have to be open 24 hours per day, provide free parking for two hours and free toilets. I never understand why station shops are so expensive though other than the fact that they hold a monopoly.

Most chain retailers that are usually found at service stations and railway stations tend to have different pricing structures between the high street and service / railway stations. Some also have different pricing structures between central London and the rest of the country. A certain fast food restaurant even charges different prices at its restaurants in different parts of St Albans. McNice!

But it's a bit more complex than you might think. Certainly for major railway stations, the retailers bid for the lease of the space when it comes up. Their bid for the lease will be based on what they think they can charge their customers, and still make a profit after all costs including the lease. Similar to bidding for retail space anywhere. So, usually, it is the lessee that drives the high rent (and thus the pricing structure), because they think that the market will bear the higher prices. Given the turnover at the major stations, they seem to be correct.

It's a different arrangement for leases at smaller stations, but the chain retailers (Smiths, Boots etc) will generally have 2 or 3 pricing structures to make things easy for the back office, so if Smiths in, say, St Albans is in the high price bracket, then you're paying nearly £2 for a bottle of water, I'd the same as at Heathrow.

Ultimately, the smarter element of the population vote with their feet / wallets / purses and shop elsewhere. However there is a sizeable proportion of the population who either don't notice or don't care, and seem happy (or at least willing) to pay the high prices. And so market forces prevail.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Cafe Express may be part of SSP, but it charges more than Upper Crust for worse coffee and has a jobsworth attitude.
At Chester, there is an empty Café Express and a packed Costa.
The Shrewsbury Lemon Tree has become Starbucks, but I'm pretty sure they are not SSP.
SSP in the UK may have roots in BR, but they used to be owned by SAS (airline group) which is why Upper Crust is all over Scandinavian stations/airports.
Taken over by Compass in 1993.
My grumble with the station outlets is the often very grubby environment, with torn seats and damaged doors - down to Network Rail I expect. I'm thinking of Crewe and Lime St.
Prices also vary subtly across the network. There is no fixed price for a cup of coffee (or quantity) in outlets of the same brand.

Dot's at Wrexham Gen remains a very decent independent station buffet with hot breakfast, and the staff smile at you. ;)
 

higthomas

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Is there a guide, on this forum by way of a thread, or elsewhere, giving an effective list of where to go nearby major stations?

Ooh, that would be a helpful thing to have. It would save the annoying times when you pick an exit at random and wander about for fifteen minutes, only to find exactly what you were looking for right beside another.

But sadly unless you're volunteering?... :P
 

BestWestern

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Worst one is vending machines which in theory are cheaper to operate than shops but charge crazy amounts for things.

And tend to be poorly maintained to the point where many, many coins are needed before one is finally accepted! And of course there are those which swallow said coins without providing something in return...

As for the earlier mentioned Starbucks replacing Pumpkin, I'm not a fan of either but would favour 'Bucks given the choice. I find Pumpkin to be particularly poor; Ginsters/Cadbury's and naff coffee. 'Bucks is certainly expensive, but they do at least have a brand quality to maintain.

The problem, I suppose, is simply that station operators want to maximise the rent from their locations. Presumably, the muscle of SSP allows them to pay more than their independent competitors, and so their plethora of brands wins the retail race. I'm led to believe that rental income is one of the major factors behind NR progressively taking stations back from
TOCs?
 
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LowLevel

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Cafe Express may be part of SSP, but it charges more than Upper Crust for worse coffee and has a jobsworth attitude.
At Chester, there is an empty Café Express and a packed Costa.
The Shrewsbury Lemon Tree has become Starbucks, but I'm pretty sure they are not SSP.
SSP in the UK may have roots in BR, but they used to be owned by SAS (airline group) which is why Upper Crust is all over Scandinavian stations/airports.
Taken over by Compass in 1993.
My grumble with the station outlets is the often very grubby environment, with torn seats and damaged doors - down to Network Rail I expect. I'm thinking of Crewe and Lime St.
Prices also vary subtly across the network. There is no fixed price for a cup of coffee (or quantity) in outlets of the same brand.

Dot's at Wrexham Gen remains a very decent independent station buffet with hot breakfast, and the staff smile at you. ;)

If it's a Starbucks on a station that's recently appeared I'd be 99.9% sure it's an SSP franchise as has appeared at locations including Grantham and Peterborough. They're replacing 'own brand' Pumpkin stores in many locations. There have been a few trial 'Jam Jar' own brand replacements as well including at Nottingham but there seems to have been more Starbucks appearing.
 

Bookd

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Having read this thread I looked up SSP, and was surprised to find how many well known names are really SSP - look at 'international brands' on their website. This shows that Burger King, Cafe Ritazza, M&S Simply Food, Starbucks, Upper Crust, and W.H. Smith stores are all operated by SSP on a franchise basis at stations, airports and suchlike.
 

extendedpaul

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Chain takeaways (McDonalds, etc. ) seem to charge around 50p per item more at stations than at their other shops. Do they have to pay higher rents at stations ?

In my experience McDonalds at stations don't charge significantly more than on the High Street. Moreover they accept the £1.99 vouchers from Metro which have got better and better value over the years as menu prices have increased,

I've occasionally seen people use newspaper breakfast vouchers looking the same as the burger ones in Metro but I've never found any myself. Does anybody know where or when they are printed ?
 

wellwhatitis

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In my experience McDonalds at stations don't charge significantly more than on the High Street. Moreover they accept the £1.99 vouchers from Metro which have got better and better value over the years as menu prices have increased,

I've occasionally seen people use newspaper breakfast vouchers looking the same as the burger ones in Metro but I've never found any myself. Does anybody know where or when they are printed ?

Metro did a batch a couple of months ago that were valid right up until the end of March, I stored a load! That's probably why you're still seeing them.
 
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HarleyDavidson

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A £5er for a large pasty at Waterloo, £3.20 large coffee at Upper Crust and the list goes on. Cheapest place at Waterloo is Boots.

Yet if you have the time you can pop down stairs & across the road and buy 2 pasties and a whole load of stuff from either Sainsbury's Metro or Tesco Express.

If I'm break at Waterloo, I often pop down, get ½ chicken £3, bag of potato wedges £1, a bottle of water & desert for about a £5er.

If you want something more substantial then there's Fishcotheque under the Charing X lines bridge, along with Subway, Waterloo Grill, Chicken Cottage on The Cut or another near the Shell Building. All cheaper than the extortion merchants on Waterloo itself.
 
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