South Western Rail Flexible Season Ticket news

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tobie

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hi,

here is some news from South Western Railway regarding their Flexible Season Ticket for part time workers, as described in the SWR franchise announcement.

A SWR staff member on their forum has confirmed that they are working "to have flexible season tickets implemented by the end of August 2018" (link to that thread on SWR's forum).

I hope this ambition is met, and that this news helps others - at least tentatively - plan their season ticket purchases.

The "South West Trains Flexible Ticketing news?" thread has some additional background on the context of this new ticketing product.

bests,
Tobie
 
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wibble

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It's a little more than an "ambition", it's an obligation as per their franchise agreement, page 378, #69.1. "Flexible Season" is carnet, as c2c already offer.

Looking at your previous post, in 2015, if you (still) travel from Portsmouth - Waterloo 2-3 times per week, the carnet won't benefit you. A 7 day season ticket is the cheapest option if you travel at least 2 days per week: £74.30 for Anytime Day Return, versus £130.70 for a 7 day season.
 

infobleep

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It will be interesting to see how they implement it on that route, given the high price of anytime day tickets.

Also be interesting to see if a part time season ticket from Guildford to Portsmouth would be as cheap as buying day tickets.

When I use to travel to Portsmouth some years ago, day tickets were cheaper than season ticket, as the season ticket was only priced in one direction.
 

tobie

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Wibble thanks for pointing to that detail of the agreement, I had not seen that. Time to seek conformation that #69.1. is indeed the promised "Flexible Season".

There does seem to be no other detail in the text of the agreement that would back-up the rhetoric of a "Flexible Season" in the franchise announcement, which does seem to promise something more than a carnet of 10 returns with a 5% discount on "Standard Anytime Day Return" pricing.

If so this is deeply a disappointing product, that does not deliver on ambition of what SEFT originally identified the need to support the economics of travel patterns for part time workers.
 

tobie

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hi, confirmation from SWT forum that Wibble's description is correct, here is the response:

"I am able to confirm that this will be the ticketing offer. The only variable I am not able to confirm is how long the tickets will be valid for."

What was written in the franchise announcement, and these were Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's words, was:

New flexible season tickets, offering a discount for passengers travelling fewer than 5 days a week

This clearly describes a product that provides flexibility and a discount.

What is emerging is a flexible product (carnet) with extremely low level of discount (5% off a Standard Anytime Day Return)

This does not seem to be a good outcome for part time commuters, given that SWT represents the latest franchise to be signed off, and the government's long time plans to support changing work patterns through the detail of franchise agreements.
 

tobie

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Dear Forum,

Here is a letter I have sent to the MD of SWT, copying in Stephen Morgan as MP for Portsmouth South and Lee Jeffery as Fares and Passenger Benefits Advisor at DfT.

Please do send your own letter if you inclined.

bests,

Tobie


Dear Andy Mellors,

I am seeking fairer fares for part time commuters.

Here an interesting quote from Baroness Kramer, Transport Minister in 2014:

“We know that more people are working part-time or from home, and do not have to travel into the office every day. It is vital that we develop a more flexible ticketing system that matches the changing patterns of work and gives better value for money to passengers who are not daily commuters. We know that some operators are already well advanced with their plans, and this research is an important next step in making flexible ticketing a reality.”
I agree. Let’s move forward 3 years, when one would hope constructive progress would have been made on franchising rules in the light of Kramer’s insights.

Here is a detail from the original franchise announcement for SWR from GOV.UK in March 2017, I assume these words are taken from your press release?


New flexible season tickets, offering a discount for passengers travelling fewer than 5 days a week


Excellent, this shows promise, it clearly implies flexibility and discount.

Now, here is the detail of your franchise agreement that would hold SWR to account for that promise (#69.1. in page 378):

“…allow passengers to purchase a minimum of ten (10) return journeys for any Passenger Services and cost at least 5% less than the aggregate Price of the same number of individualy purchased "Standard Anytime Day Return” Fare..."

So, after all the social insights, and franchise support for part time commuters, here we have an outcome where a commuter traveling 2 days per week from Portsmouth to Waterloo is better off paying £130.70 for a 7 day season rather than £141.17 for two days travel (2 Anytime Day Return at £74.30 with 5% discount)

This does not seem to be a good outcome for part time commuters.

As Managing Director, you have the power to shape this product, before it is implemented by the end of August 2018, to support the changing work patterns of UK commuters.

Please don't miss your opportunity for SWR to lead the industry with flexible season tickets for part time commuters

bests,
Tobie
 

Bletchleyite

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That's basically Carnets, and not even a particularly good deal on them, isn't it? (Not to mention the other issues those cause, for the risk of which I wouldn't bother with a measly 5% off).
 

ForTheLoveOf

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If the DfT rrally wanted to do what they had promised, they would and could have mandated a significantly higher percentage than a ridiculous 5% discount. Ordinarily I would have been surprised at what seems like utter incompetence in giving the franchisee so much leeway to follow the letter of the promise rather than its spirit..

But alas this is the DfT we're talking about, where few things other than continually reducing overall railway subsidy and keeping it in private hands matters. No doubt SWR would have bid a slightly lesser premium if a higher percentage had been specified. Clearly the DfT are so obsessed with reducing subsidy and maximising premiums that it's failed to see the wood for the trees in terms of the economic opportunities and potential gains wasted by not making part-time commuting more attractive.
 

Indigo2

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It's not a very surprising outcome really, and perhaps shows a lack of understanding of season ticket economics on the part of the DfT. It's not that they weren't warned that what they were promising was impractical though - I even told them as much in my response (on behalf of BRfares.com) to their consultation on fares in 2012: http://www.brfares.com/dft-consultation-response.pdf

BR Fares Consultation Response said:
The consultation document identifies the following issues with the current system of season tickets:
  • High upfront cost
  • Commuters who travel fewer than five days a week pay more per journey than 5-day a week commuters, which may be acting as a barrier to some people wishing to enter or re-enter the job market
  • Perceived financial disincentive to work flexibly or part-time
  • No incentive to travel outside the busiest periods
2.2 Do you agree with the issues we’ve identified
with the current system of season tickets? Is there anything we’ve missed?


Disagree

Additional comments:

In general I believe the criticisms mentioned are valid ones, however I disagree with the way they are drawn together because it neglects to mention the fact that season tickets offer an extremely substantial discount over buying daily tickets. As the document mentions, in many cases they are still the best value fare for someone who does not commute every day - however I disagree with the conclusion that someone who uses them in this way is getting a bad deal; rather I would counter with the argument that people who use them every day are getting an extraordinarily good deal, and are in effect being subsidised by less frequent travellers.

I would note also that there is nothing in fares regulation to prevent TOCs offering cheaper deals for less frequent travellers, such as Early Bird seasons and flexible carnets. I would hypothesise that the reason this is not very common is because season tickets are artificially cheap due to regulation. Most TOCs could likely charge a lot more for season tickets if they were allowed to, and not see much of a reduction in peak commuter traffic. So there is no financial incentive to offer cheaper, less flexible season tickets, unless regulation were changed to permit the prices of fully flexible seasons to be increased.
 

Joe Paxton

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That's basically Carnets, and not even a particularly good deal on them, isn't it? (Not to mention the other issues those cause, for the risk of which I wouldn't bother with a measly 5% off).
The standard answer for how troublesome carnets can be as currently implemented is smartcards.
 

swt_passenger

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If the DfT rrally wanted to do what they had promised, they would and could have mandated a significantly higher percentage than a ridiculous 5% discount. Ordinarily I would have been surprised at what seems like utter incompetence in giving the franchisee so much leeway to follow the letter of the promise rather than its spirit...
There’s no room for a “significantly higher percentage” because the existing SWR longer distance seasons often cost less than 2 day’s travel already. People seem to want the weekly season price halved for say 2 day’s travel, but that would make a 2 day season cheaper than an Anytime Day return. Fare regulation since privatisation has led to the differential between day ticket and weekly season being stupidly high. No idea what the answer is.

It would be interesting to know what discount tobie will be happy with...
 
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infobleep

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There’s no room for a “significantly higher percentage” because the existing SWR longer distance seasons often cost less than 2 day’s travel already. People seem to want the weekly season price halved for say 2 day’s travel, but that would make a 2 day season cheaper than an Anytime Day return. Fare regulation since privatisation has led to the differential between day ticket and weekly season being stupidly high. No idea what the answer is.

It would be interesting to know what discount tobie will be happy with...
Without reducing the anutime day return prices I don't see an answer. However the railways needonwy to run them so they won't want to cut that price.

Whilst they could raise the price of the full time season tickets, that won't happen too much as wouldn't be popular.

How has the part time season ticket worked in Exeter and could that model have been applied more widely? Or was it not possible because it undercut anytime day farea?
 

tobie

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To keep this thread up to date, another forum member of SWT has written to their MP about the disappointing outcome of SWT promise for a cheaper, flexible product for part time commuters:

https://forum.southwesternrailway.c...rn-carnet-with-5-aggregate-discount/1157#1157

This letter writer is more eloquent than I, and their MP seems to have the ear of Chris Grayling.

ForTheLoveOf asked what pricing I would be happy with. Something closer to £40 then £70 per day would seem sensible.
 

tobie

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To keep this thread up to date, another forum member of SWT has written to their MP about the disappointing outcome of SWT promise for a cheaper, flexible product for part time commuters:

https://forum.southwesternrailway.c...rn-carnet-with-5-aggregate-discount/1157#1157

This letter writer is more eloquent than I, and their MP seems to have the ear of Chris Grayling.

ForTheLoveOf asked what pricing I would be happy with. Something closer to £40 then £70 per day would seem sensible.
Edit: apologies, the question came from swt_passenger
 

Haywain

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If SWR have met their franchise obligation, which it appears they will, I struggle to see what the problem is. Unless we want to remove ticketing anomalies across the network. Which we don't, because we like to take advantage of them.
 
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Chalk Farm

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Thanks, Tobie. Here is the text of the letter sent to Anne Milton, MP for Guildford, inviting comments both from her and from Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport.

The discount for a carnet of 10 tickets should be at least 30%.


To: Anne Milton, MP for Guildford

Re: Unacceptable Southwestern Railway ticketing proposal for part-time and flexible workers


Dear Anne Milton MP,

As a frequent rail user yourself, I am certain that you and many other passengers will be dismayed to learn of recent communications from Southwestern Railway, suggesting that their long-awaited ticket offering for part-time commuters will comprise a carnet of 10 tickets at a meagre 5% discount from full standard fares.

See link from the Southwestern Railway website as follows:

https://forum.southwesternrailway.c...-a-10-return-carnet-with-5-aggregate-discount

The provision of a ticketing structure which is appropriate for and fair to part-time and flexible workers was a firm commitment made by SWR when acceding to the franchise in 2017, highlighted on the company's website and in its PR communications as a positive change intended to provide flexibility and a discount for frequent rail users who do not travel on every day of the week.

The Government's long-stated objective in this respect has been to develop a ticketing structure which is fairly and constructively adapted to today's working patterns.

Unfortunately, it is now clear that the proposal from SWR is not designed to meet this goal -- rather it appears to have been formulated by the franchise Operator to offer the smallest possible discount which technically complies with the legal fine print of the franchise commitments rather than with their intent.

For comparison with the 5% discount which SWR are proposing for a carnet of 10 tickets, please note that a weekly season ticket from Guildford presently offers a 29% discount from 5 return journeys a week, while a monthly season ticket offers a 35% discount on 21 return journeys a month.

Using the weekly and monthly season ticket structures as a benchmark, a carnet of 10 tickets should therefore reasonably offer a discount exceeding 30%.

It is remarkable that while giving lip-service to providing a ticket option for flexible and part-time workers, in reality SWR is offering these commuters less than one sixth of the discount which is available to those travelling on every day of the week.

Given that many of those who travel on fewer than five days a week will be women, the proposal made by SWR can be seen as not only cynically minimalist but also intrinsically discriminatory by gender.

I would welcome your views on this, and I would also urgently invite comments and corrective intervention from the Secretary of State for Transport. I am certain that neither the Government nor Mr Grayling had this kind of meagre proposal in mind when setting out the vision of a modern railway which can adequately meets the needs of those who travel today and in the future.

Many thanks to you and Mr Grayling for your engagement and for your continuing support of rail commuters from our area, which as always is very warmly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
 

kristiang85

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So, for example, BSK to WAT is £41.70 return.

If you work 3 days a week, that will cost you £118.85, with 5% discount applied.

A weekly ticket is £110.60. And that's for 7 days unlimited travel.

So I don't see the point? Maybe it works better for other stations.

Edit: Ah I see this has been discussed above. Totally in agreement with previous comments that this is a box checking exercise for their franchise agreement rather than actually helping passengers.
 
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swt_passenger

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So, for example, BSK to WAT is £41.70 return.

If you work 3 days a week, that will cost you £118.85, with 5% discount applied.

A weekly ticket is £110.60. And that's for 7 days unlimited travel.

So I don't see the point? Maybe it works better for other stations.
It probably won’t. This is the big problem, over the outer reaches of the SWR network, many seasons are even cheaper than you’ve found, tending towards twice the price of the anytime return.
 

infobleep

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Looking at their Web Site I am wondering if the validity is too short. If they extended the validity from 2 months to say 6 to 8 months then perhaps it would be worth it. I also think 5% is neither here nor there.

It's a shame they didn't consult on this scheme, like they did with the timetables. Or at least if they didn't consult, I'm not aware of it.
 

Bletchleyite

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At least it isn't paper carnets with all the troubles those cause, but 5% is a joke. Logically it should be a similar discount (slightly higher price) to 5 journeys on a weekly.

I'd go for 12 months validity.
 

Haywain

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Only issuing them as day returns further limits their use. Essentially if you are making 2 day-trips in a week and travelling at peak times the carnet will be good for you, but if it's anything else they are of no use.
 

K.o.R

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This would require them to make their pedestal readers work at all their stations, not just the barriered ones. They'll probably make the tickets only valid at the origin and destination stations.
 

kristiang85

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Only issuing them as day returns further limits their use. Essentially if you are making 2 day-trips in a week and travelling at peak times the carnet will be good for you, but if it's anything else they are of no use.
I do love how they say they are valid for unlimited return trips in one day. As if anybody actually goes to the same place and back twice or more in one day.
 

daveshah

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Interestingly, in other parts of the SWR network using 5 carnet tickets is cheaper than a 7-day season.

e.g Brockenhurst to Bournemouth
Carnet £76 (£38 for 5 days)
7-day season £39.30

Definitely the other way round for longer journeys
 

infobleep

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I do love how they say they are valid for unlimited return trips in one day. As if anybody actually goes to the same place and back twice or more in one day.
That means they are valid for stations in between though. So if you were travelling from from say Godalming to Waterlooa and after heading home, has an evening engagement in Guildford, you could use the ticket again.
 
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