Should First Class be abolished throughout the UK Rail Network?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Flamingo, 22 May 2015.

Should First Class be completely abolished on UK Railways?

Poll closed 6 Jun 2015.
  1. I have used First Class and I think it should go.

    33 vote(s)
    7.6%
  2. I have used First Class and I think it should be kept.

    330 vote(s)
    76.0%
  3. I never travel First Class and think it should go.

    22 vote(s)
    5.1%
  4. I never travel First Class, but think it should be kept.

    49 vote(s)
    11.3%
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  1. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Is First Class more hassle than it's worth and has it outlived it's usefulness in this egalitarian utopia that is modern-day Britain?

    Should all First Class seats be converted to high-density Standard Class on all trains to provide more seats for everybody? Not just the pampered few, where Standard Class passengers are crushed against the glass partition, pressing their noses against it to catch a glimpse of the high-life beyond that they can only aspire to.

    Is the extra cost to TOC's justified in having extra staff to administer the First Class lounges and on-train? In these days post McNulty could those staff be better used elsewhere, or dispensed with completely and the savings passed on to the hard-pressed passenger?

    Is it a useful environment, which is an extension of the office where business can be transacted on the move?

    A relaxing treat for a leisure journey, allowing for a nicer beginning or end to a pleasure trip

    Or it something that simply makes a daily commute more bearable with a chance to sit and get some refreshments brought to the seat while unwinding from the stress of a working day, so as to be relaxed on arriving home?

    What do you think? Just say if you ever use First Class or not, so we all know where your view is coming from.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  2. First class

    First class Established Member

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    Certainly I have experience with one TOC, where the entire annual first class revenue well outperforms the entire annual standard class revenue, despite substantially less first class customers.

    Similar trends can be seen on long haul airlines, where unprofitable/loss making economy fares are effectively subsidised by business/first class custom.

    You could get rid of first class, but those 1st customers will generally not migrate to standard - especially if high density - they'll radically change their mode of transport completely, (flights, car etc), and would create an instant and critical revenue loss, which would inevitably lead to capacity cuts (not added) to reduce costs there, staff cuts, potential DOO expansion, as well as making the railways overall less attractive to more "premium" or "business" users. Non regulated standard fares would have to rise to respond to the lack of revenue.

    Some services could well do with being entirely first class only, but negative public perception (or lack of paths) prevents this on certain flows. An Open Access Operator could potentially do rather well, but would be fiercely attacked by other TOCs who would see an ORCATs reduction on First Class fares.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 22 May 2015
  3. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    Without access to the revenue split I can't make a fully informed comment, but if Collector's experience applies generally then it makes financial sense to keep it if nothing else.

    If First Class can be priced so that it's well used by both business users on full fares and off-peak leisure passengers using yield management, then the additional staff and refreshments should pay for themselves. For example, I'm doing an Intercity trip in a few weeks where the available Advance fares were £16 for Standard or £20 for First. I thought the £4 'upgrade' was worth it and the only additional cost for the TOC is a couple of cups of tea.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  4. FordFocus

    FordFocus Member

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    Intercity trains keep First Class. Commuter ones get rid, never really saw the point.
     
  5. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Not an option. Read the question again more carefully :lol:
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Collector makes a good point, but I was looking at it from more than a straightforward "Does it pay it's way?" point of view.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  6. cf111

    cf111 Established Member

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    I am a cheapskate, but I also like nice things, therefore when I travel 1st it's on a cheap fare on InterCity journeys. I don't commute by train so I'm lucky enough to have no regular experience of the crowded conditions suffered by some day in day out.

    Selfishly I'd say keep it for the three or four times I year I use it, also the staff and regular passengers should bow and scrape as I pass them on my way to my seat ;).
     
  7. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    It might not be an option but it should be.

    Why keep the poll results hidden btw?
     
  8. RailAleFan

    RailAleFan Member

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    As I never actually purchase a first class ticket unless a 1st Advance happens to be the cheapest option I wouldn't mind at all if it didn't exist, but having said that I've often paid for a weekend 1st upgrade on busy XC services.
     
  9. First class

    First class Established Member

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    The point is that those (fewer) first class peak customers enable off peak standard customers to afford to travel. First Class cross subsidies standard.

    Very, very simply, see this:

    I need a train to bring me £10,000, so that it covers its costs and makes me a profit.
    First Class revenue brings me £6,000.
    Standard class (at 50% less per ticket) revenue brings me £4,000.
    Therefore I am happy as I've met my target.

    If I remove first class, to get that £10,000
    First Class revenue would bring me £0
    Standard Class revenue would bring me £4,000.
    I now have a £6,000 loss. Customers aren't going to take a substantial fare increase, but maybe I can just about make £1,000 from less dramatic STD increases. I'm still £5,000 down. My only option now is to reduce capacity (to reduce access costs, fleet costs etc), to remove the train entirely, or cut staff costs, if possible
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 22 May 2015
  10. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    You can see them when you vote (at least that's what I thought I ticked!)
     
  11. lincolnshire

    lincolnshire Member

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    Yes its time it went, on some trains the space for First Class is a joke, TPE a few seats and thats your lot , Thameslink , Southern all just a few seats.

    How many people actually pay the full First Class fare then? how many just pay the supplement like at weekend or school holiday times of year? and then there,s the ones who have found a super duper fare after looking for ages.

    Its a bit like the British Airways situation a few years ago when Lord King was in charge, we want the First Class & Business Class to travel on our planes and we will make more allocation of space for them and let the minions just fill up the space at the back as we don,t really want them, they can travel with the budget airlines. So when things was bad and First Class & Business Class was not flying due to the situation at the time they was not making money any more as the minions at the back had gone elsewhere for there travel.
    So in actual fact the minions at the back subsidise the rest of the plane, how many First Class & Business Class planes only fly every day then?

    The trains are the same the Standard Class is subsidising the First Class.
    How many staff is on the train running round after them and in East Coast case how much is the food and drink costing per passenger then? considering some of the loadings afternoon onwards going south it can be about one coach full max.Standard end your lucky if the trolley gets through the train or we haven,t got enough staff.

    Back In B.R. days when we was squeezed for money there was a driver/ guard / and on some a buffet car attendant and that was your lot. How many staff now on the average train?

    Inside information is that Northern is thinking of having First Class on Pacer and Sprinters then they can dip in the First Class pot of fare money just like TPE does for some routes.

    P.S. Its a joke that Northern is having first class
     
  12. Paul Sidorczuk

    Paul Sidorczuk Veteran Member

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    Both my good lady wife and I have travelled First Class, where available, for more times than we can remember and prior to retirement I always travelled First Class on business appointments (Wilmslow to London being such a journey).

    What on earth is wrong with appreciating the finer things of life if you can well afford to pay for them? We have some remarkable restaurants within our local village area where £200 for a party of four is an average evening-time meal price, without any service charge, so why go to establishments such McDonalds or Burger King instead?

    Quality over quantity at all times is a good adage to follow.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  13. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    Problem is that "commuter train" is quite difficult to define on the UK rail network, many commuters in the West Midlands commute short-distances on Virgin Pendolinos and SuperVoyagers, whereas others on the same journey use London Midland class 350/2s. Aside from operate specific ticketing, there's often no clear separation by price and/or journey time like you would find with the regional (R/RE/IRE) and long-distance services (IC/ICE) services in Germany.
     
  14. Simon11

    Simon11 Member Jobs & Careers Assistant

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    What TOC are you referring to? I certainly don't believe that any TOC would receive more revenue from First than Standard Class.

    As to the question, the Poll is rather pointless. First Class should exist if the revenue from First Class is higher than the cost of providing it and opportunity costs (i.e. would this space be better used for other purposes).
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  15. Dave1987

    Dave1987 Established Member

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    I've travelled first class a few times. Usually when I'm on a long journey and want the extra leg room and the refreshments. I certainly would not ditch first class on long distance trains. On commuter trains you tend to find people have first class tickets to give a better chance of them having a seat rather than the luxuries that go with it.

    My argument is that the country should get away from ordering shorter trains. For example the new IEP sets are going to mostly be 5 cars trains. Now what's the betting that services that could do with more than five coaches in the off peak end up with a 5 car train and loads of people standing. There will then be calls to abolish the first class on those when the easier option would be for them to be a full length train.
     
  16. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    But on trains that are busy, can the space occupied by 40 first class passengers be justified if it can hold 80 standard class passengers? That's 40 more people having seats, and not having to complain to their MP about having to stand, or being PF'd for sitting in the only seat available. After all, TOC's have a moral duty to provide the maximum benefit to the maximum number of people...
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  17. Bishopstone

    Bishopstone Member

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    First Class season ticket holder; leisure travel often in First on Advances or Gold Card discounts; trips paid for by my employer all in Standard.

    Given the binary choice of keeping what we have, or scrapping First Class everywhere, I would go for the former.

    I wouldn't revert to Standard on my current commute: I'd change work locations with my current employer, or switch jobs.

    I think population pressures in the south-east will make the retention of First Class on 'NSE' routes increasingly difficult to justify to the masses, and enforce. People won't pay the premium if First is routinely declassified or left as a free-for-all, and it will wither and be withdrawn, over time.
     
  18. WestCountry

    WestCountry Member

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    "Never used" vs "have used" seems to be the wrong split for this question - with wide availability of cheap Advances, almost every frequent traveller will have had an FC ticket at some point. :s
    I wonder what proportion of voters for the first two options actually use FC on their typical journey?
     
  19. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Keep on long InterCity trains, and introduce a First Class Off Peak ticket at 1.5 times the Standard fare with identical conditions to allow more people to use it at a reasonable price. I use it in the UK only when Weekend First is available, whereas I'm much more likely to use it in Germany and Switzerland where the multiplier is much more reasonable than the UK. I don't do Advances.

    Get rid of it on all local trains including London commuter services other than the really long distance stuff, and on any regional express routes with severe overcrowding (I'm thinking of TPE here).
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  20. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    I actually voted for the 2nd option. I've used First Class on VT quite a few times, never used First Class on London Midland as I don't see the point of having a First Class on commuter services such as those that LM operate.
     
  21. Holly

    Holly Member

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    I was not sure how to vote, so I didn't.

    I support the view of the fictional British Prime Minister Harry Perkins that we are all First Class people and so First class should not be abolished. But Standard Class (in Harry's time Second Class) should be abolished. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094576/

    It's a matter of me, a typical (I think) member of the public wanting the railway to provide me a service. Rather than the railway treating me as an optional resource. I want to be a passenger, as contrasted with a customer.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  22. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    If First Class was actually used by passengers paying First Class fares, that would be fine. However, we all know (however much some want to conceal it) that this does not happen.

    Filling up First Class with people on bargain Advances which are substantially less than the normal Standard Class fare, just because you have provided too much First and too little Standard is silly. Among other things, it gives revenue dilution for the (few) who would actually have paid the First, but take advantage of this.

    The demand for First may be there into London in the am, and leaving in the pm. For the rest of the time, and at weekends, it's not really there. However with fixed formation trains the class proportion stays the same all the time.

    The West Coast has, for several generations of rolling stock now, had a gross overprovision of First Class, for a reason I've never understood. Even out of London in the early morning, much of it is empty stock.

    The giving of free First passes to rail management above a certain grade is now diminished, although not gone (a procedure which on certain routes, such as Glasgow-Edinburgh, turned the First Class compartment into a private club for them, while the paying plebs were standing in the Standards). Likewise business, government, etc has moved away or prohibited it for expenses trips, especially since the walk-up First fares started to reach eyewatering levels. Nevertheless the F/S proportions seem to have no way been reduced.

    As an S business traveller needing walk-up fares because I arrange things the afternoon before and don't know when I can get away to come back, it really hacks me off to be either squashed or standing while those with F advances who have paid far less than me get much better accommodation with 25% occupancy. On some occasions, after previous poor experiences, it has tipped the balance to drive instead.

    If you can find a train that has anything like this sort of balance of revenue I'll eat my hat.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  23. HLE 13

    HLE 13 Established Member

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    Personally I think it should stay however it needs the powers to be to get a almighty kick up the backside to stop issues like the Reading commuters with Standard Class seasons from walking though/hanging around First Class just to be the first off the train at Paddington when there's plenty of seats in Standard Class they can use.

    I think if they actually said sod it, let's crack down on the abuse I think give it a month some of the issues might well disappear especially if they listen to the guys who have to deal with this day in and day out!
     
  24. Bishopstone

    Bishopstone Member

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    And of course the media, MPs, trade unions and public transport pressure groups would all support this blitz.

    Especially when (inevitably) one of the PF'd Standard interlopers turns out to be a disabled Afghanistan veteran.
     
  25. GrimsbyPacer

    GrimsbyPacer Established Member

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    I think it should be abolished.
    Why should one carriage be crammed with poor commuters while an almost empty carriage is reserved for the rich?
    The class system is unfair wherever it exists.
    Surely all people should be treated equally and not as 1st and 2nd class citizens? Don't forget we all pay towards rail in part by taxes.

    If you support two classes, ask yourself why not three?
    The answer is the reason we need Standard class all-round.
     
  26. Good Point

    Good Point Member

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    I did PBO-KGX for 8 years and it was only the sanctuary of FC (& KGX lounge) that stopped me from having a breakdown. I hate to think how many G&Ts I quaffed! (also sandwiches, crisps, orange juice, croissants, fruit, coffee, red wine,.. - yep, we wanted for nothing in FC!)

    I always think of FC as being like going into Waitrose - no profanity, polite conversation, good manners, rarely raised voices.
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2015
  27. broadgage

    broadgage Member

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    WRT the new shorter trains, I understand that the proportion of first class has already been reduced to less than was originaly proposed, before the wretched things are even built yet.
    IIRC, the half length units are now to have only 36 first class seats. I expect this to be reduced further before they enter service, or shortly afterwards.
     
  28. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    Would you ban Tesco Finest as well? What about central London pubs which charge £5 a pint?
     
  29. extendedpaul

    extendedpaul Member

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    I think I am a fairly typical leisure traveller and I would be very disappointed if first class was dropped.

    I always use advances on long journeys and decide between first and standard on a trip by trip basis. Some longer journeys are well worth the extra for first class - Glasgow to Euston in the evening meal period for example - but from Paddington to Cardiff off peak the differential is too much for me, taking account of journey time and the refreshments provided.

    I would never pay extra for first class without at least free soft drinks, coffee and snacks but the alcoholic drinks and hot meals are what I really want.
     
  30. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I am demonstrably not rich nor are my friends yet all of us at some point or another have travelled first class.
     
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