Saver Half (SVH) product on Avanti West Coast to end from May fares round

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Bletchleyite

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Different to our own SSH/SSU then
Quite possibly so. The only requirement for a VT/Avanti SVH was that it was bought with something else. Another SVH was fine (and if a SVR was the same price, which only didn't happen with Railcards which sometimes gave rise to a rounding error making two SVHs 5p cheaper, or if the two legs were more than a month apart, it would issue as a SVR). It was basically a tool to allow the "Trainline matrix" to show all usefully available fares as singles (as West Coast Anytime Singles are already half the returns).
 

yorkie

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Where 2 x SVS fares are deemed valid, a booking site should not offer this, and instead retail the SVR.

However, due to rounding, there are some occasions when 2 x SVS may be 5p cheaper than an SVR; some retail systems will therefore offer 2 x SVS and not offer the SVR because it's cheaper. Some systems will correctly offer the SVR. It depends on who supplies the fares data used by the retailer in question.
 

alistairlees

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Checking our regular journey (when lockdown is over) from Nuneaton to Liverpool in the evening, returning early the following morning, two adults using a Two Together Railcard on the outbound, I see the total price has risen from £79.50 to £95.80.

We now have to buy an SVR instead of 2 x SVH. It's a price rise of over 20%.

Are these regulated fares? Do I have any redress?
As others have pointed out, this doesn't make much sense - unless you mean "two SVHs" because there were two of you travelling? And are therefore saying that previously, for each adult, you would have bought (for example) an Advance + SVH; now you have to buy an SVR (as presumably you need the flexibility coming back).

As others have pointed out, the SVH is not regulated - it was created after regulation. So actually it was an improvement introduced despite regulation. For anyone wanting a single off-peak ticket on this route, the price has now reduced by around 30%.
 

alistairlees

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Quite possibly so. The only requirement for a VT/Avanti SVH was that it was bought with something else. Another SVH was fine (and if a SVR was the same price, which only didn't happen with Railcards which sometimes gave rise to a rounding error making two SVHs 5p cheaper, or if the two legs were more than a month apart, it would issue as a SVR). It was basically a tool to allow the "Trainline matrix" to show all usefully available fares as singles (as West Coast Anytime Singles are already half the returns).
No, two SVH were not supposed to be bought together; an SVR was supposed to be offered instead. This was one of the Virgin Trains accreditation tests.
 

Bletchleyite

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As others have pointed out, the SVH is not regulated - it was created after regulation. So actually it was an improvement introduced despite regulation. For anyone wanting a single off-peak ticket on this route, the price has now reduced by around 30%.
You'll also get apparent reductions in some cases for people who will do things like route one way outward and one way back to get cheap Advances. Trainsplit will I think let you do different "via" points each way, but most sites won't, so now they've made the actual singles cheaper more people will do that by just booking two entirely separate singles. Also the problem with "changing" SVSs goes away.

Those are just some of the reasons I support this change even though in a few cases it will cost me more. Though I'd obviously rather the singles were just 50% of the returns! :)
 

greatkingrat

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A SVR costs exactly the same as two SVHs, that's the whole point of SVHs, so I'm not quite understanding? Has the return been increased in price as well? If it has, that has no relevance to SVHs.
I think the point is they are returning before 0930. So at present they are buying one railcard discounted SVH, and one full price SVH. If they buy a SVR instead, they won't get any railcard discount.
 

MKB

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I think the point is they are returning before 0930. So at present they are buying one railcard discounted SVH, and one full price SVH. If they buy a SVR instead, they won't get any railcard discount.
Exactly. I get a Two Together railcard discount on the outbound. (Sorry if that wasn't clear. Thought it was.)

Virgin were well aware of the fact that one of the advantages of SVH was the ability to book two SVH with railcard discount only in one direction. [I had a dispute with them, many years ago, over Delay Repay when they tried to argue that an SVH ticket was a single, not half of a return. After intervention from Passenger Focus (as they were called then), Virgin accepted that it was not a single, despite being badged on their website as "Off-peak Single (Online Only)", and must be treated as part of a return ticket for the purposes of Delay Repay. They commented at the time that it was a consequence of the fact that two SVH tickets would only be sold automatically as an SVR if the same railcard application was in effect in each direction.]

If it was unintentional, Virgin had many years to fix it, and chose not to. And why would they? It was a huge product differentiator.

Because it was offered on Virgin's booking engine and also Avanti's, anyone wanting to travel with a railcard that is valid only after 09:30, and where one direction is before this time, and where they can't/don't want to use an Advance, would be shown 2 x SVH as the cheapest option. This change by Avanti will not just hit me. It will hit lots of passengers. (As this forum knows, there are plenty of routes where "off-peak" tickets are available before 09:30.)

This represents over a 20% increase in journey costs for many people.
 
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Starmill

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Agreed, the Avanti only fares would no longer make sense for me between Rugby and Birmingham. Until this change, they gave you the option of saving a few quid, with the compromise of a reduced service frequency to choose from.

No point doing this if you can get the interavailable ticket for an extra 10p and be free to jump on the next train each way, whether that’s Avanti or WMT/LNR.
In the case of Rugby to Birmingham, the Off Peak Day Return increases from £8.80 to £11.40, a 30% price rise. With new fares, committing oneself to the Avanti West Coast services (just a quarter of typical services) therefore saves £0.05 each way.
 

Bletchleyite

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In the case of Rugby to Birmingham, the Off Peak Day Return increases from £8.80 to £11.40, a 30% price rise. With new fares, committing oneself to the Avanti West Coast services (just a quarter of typical services) therefore saves £0.05 each way.
I suspect they're hoping enough people will just buy what the planner says is cheapest and not bother about validity.

I suspect this hope won't be in vain given the number of very poorly-priced Advances they offer.
 

Starmill

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We now have to buy an SVR instead of 2 x SVH. It's a price rise of over 20%.

Are these regulated fares? Do I have any redress?
You can always complain to your MP that you don't think that government-controlled company should be allowed to increase prices so rapidly. That's probably about it, though.
 

Bletchleyite

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You can always complain to your MP that you don't think that government-controlled company should be allowed to increase prices so rapidly. That's probably about it, though.
And the problem is that there will be as many people who are advantaged, such as people wanting a flexible journey which is in the peak in one direction and off-peak in the other.

Any fares changes will have winners and losers even if revenue neutral. Personally I consider I will be a winner on this one by being able to do complex journeys with singles despite being a bit more expensive.
 

kieron

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And the problem is that there will be as many people who are advantaged, such as people wanting a flexible journey which is in the peak in one direction and off-peak in the other.
How do you feel these people would gain? As far as I can see, someone like that booking on-line to travel tomorrow would be offered an SOS one way and an SVH the other, at a cost of half the price of an SOR and half the SVR price. Someone booking to travel in June would be offered a SOS and a SVS, typically costing half the price of an SOR + 70% of the SVR price. That is to say, a price rise.

People who don't buy the ticket on-line will be better off with this change, as they were never offered SVHs anyway. Some of the people who are making a one way journey by rail will also benefit, although you may have to exclude the few who would buy a cheapest tier advance ticket in the other direction just to be able to buy the SVH.
 

plugwash

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That's not true, you could combine SVHs with anything. Buying two of them was mostly pointless as the SVR was the same price, but with Railcard discounts this could sometimes end up 5p less.
Buying two of them would presumablly also have left you in a better position if you found yourself needing to return peak, as you could excess the SVH to an anytime single while with a SVR you would have been forced to either buy a new ticket or excess to an anytime return.
 

Bletchleyite

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Buying two of them would presumablly also have left you in a better position if you found yourself needing to return peak, as you could excess the SVH to an anytime single while with a SVR you would have been forced to either buy a new ticket or excess to an anytime return.
Very true, didn't think of that.

The benefits of "full" single-fare pricing are immense.
 

plugwash

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The thing is I would expect that getting rid of returns and pricing the new day singles at half the price of the former returns will be revenue negative. Sure some people will lose out (no overnight break of journey for example) but for the majority of travelers it will be either neutral or a price cut.

The private rail operators aren't going to sit back and eat that. So single fare pricing means either more government subsidy to the railway or it means a price rise for those who currently use off peak return tickets.

And as the LNER trial has shown introucing single fare pricing on some journeys and not others causes problems of it's own as people "travel short" on the new single fares leading to revenue going to the wrong operator which then leads to customer-hostile route restrictions being added.
 

Bletchleyite

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Agreed, as long as it's done properly. Not the cack handed way the LNER trial and subsequent Avanti changes have been done.
True, though even if it is done cack-handedly, the impact of it is lower, e.g. if you wanted to go London-Edinburgh on LNER and back on TPE then Avanti, you'd just buy three singles (or possibly an even cheaper split).
 

kieron

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The thing is I would expect that getting rid of returns and pricing the new day singles at half the price of the former returns will be revenue negative. Sure some people will lose out (no overnight break of journey for example) but for the majority of travelers it will be either neutral or a price cut.
People talk about "revenue neutral" here quite a bit, but any change the rail industry makes will have an effect of some sort on what people do. Some people will buy different tickets (remember that Avanti sell a lot of advance tickets, which are all priced as single fares), some will decide to travel by train where they wouldn't have done beforehand, and some decide not to travel by train. Without market research, I don't think it's worth speculating on what effect a change will have on revenue.

For now, though, my understanding is that the government is solely responsible for how much revenue the West Coast Partnership brings in. They intend to transfer this risk back to the private sector at some point, but they'll have to agree a new deal with First Trenitalia for this, as the projections in the original franchise agreement will no longer be realistic. If a private operators has no interest in how much revenue a franchise brings in, they're not going to have to "eat" anything if it a change did mean that the franchise brought in less money.

It's all down to the government, and there's no knowing what they want as they're still sitting on the report from the Williams Review.
 

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