Standing on long rail journeys to be banned under Virgin Trains plan for airline-style fare

Bletchleyite

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I saw a Greater Anglia train at the station saying you must have a seat reservation before boarding. i guess they already do this?
You'll have misread cycle reservation, or alternatively the PIS stating the train was "fully reserved", which doesn't mean you can't board, but rather that you might have to stand if everyone shows up.
 
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DarloRich

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Calm down everyone! Context please!

This is Virgin’s submission to the Williams Review. This is absolutely not a firm proposal that will happen. It is an idea that Virgin are floating, along with slot auctions and the ability to run trains at quiet times. There are lots of other ideas, from lots of other organisations.
exactly - although few have as canny a PR machine as Virgin ;)
 

Kite159

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This reminds me of last Easter when looking into tickets for Edinburgh - London on the Monday (following a little sleeper jolly into Queen Street high level), for the vast majority of VTEC Edinburgh - London services the advance fare was £70.50 [there were a couple around £40 but those tended to be the services which arrived in London after midnight], alongside the website was offering the (website) super offpeak single £71 fare. So most would pay the extra 50p for a bit of flexibility. Imagine if that £71 flexible fare wasn't there, and how much VTEC would have wanted for middle of the day services. Probably around £100 if not more for the faster trains, maybe a bit less for the stoppers.
 

mickulty

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I think the first sentence of the submission proper makes virgin's attitude clear: "The vast majority of long-distance fail travel is discretionary." - so they don't think they have a duty as a public service to make sure people can travel. I strongly disagree with that.
 

Bletchleyite

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I think the first sentence of the submission proper makes virgin's attitude clear: "The vast majority of long-distance fail travel is discretionary." - so they don't think they have a duty as a public service to make sure people can travel. I strongly disagree with that.
They aren't wrong, though. Commuters commute because otherwise they lose their job - the service can get pretty awful before they start leaving their jobs en-masse (though I believe the awful GTR has managed to achieve that to some extent). Most VTWC passengers either didn't have to make the journey at all or have an alternative (car, air, coach or whatever). If the travelling experience is rubbish, they'll be lost.

FWIW, it's very worth a read of the full document. One thing of particular interest is that they basically propose the original Chiltern model near enough as-is for regional services. I do think they have fundamentally missed the point about airlines, though, in that the reason airlines do not allow standing is purely a safety one, and most airlines wouldn't hesitate to pack the aisles full if they were allowed to do so.
 
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Bletchleyite

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To add to that, one point he misses is that if we do want to segregate IC and local, we will need a lot more paths for local to ensure there is an adequate local service on all routes. Is he happy to drop Euston to Manchester to 2tph to allow for another LNR service?

I do note that the example path package he wants to bid for is the most lucrative peak time Euston to Manchester services :D
 

mickulty

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They aren't wrong, though. Commuters commute because otherwise they lose their job - the service can get pretty awful before they start leaving their jobs en-masse (though I believe the awful GTR has managed to achieve that to some extent). Most VTWC passengers either didn't have to make the journey at all or have an alternative (car, air, coach or whatever). If the travelling experience is rubbish, they'll be lost.
Yes, I'm assuming in good faith that the claim is not strictly false. However I feel that the attitude betrayed in the submission is one that railway passengers are frequently a burden and it would be much nicer if they organised themselves like airline passengers - checking in well ahead of time, paying surcharges for their bags, and above all paying what the operator demands and not being there unless the operator wants them!

That the report suggests it's an indication of how to attract passengers is almost funny - while one could certainly attract passengers by improving the travelling experience, it's absurd for that passenger-attracting improvement to supposedly come in the form of turning away passengers.
 

Bletchleyite

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Yes, I'm assuming in good faith that the claim is not strictly false. However I feel that the attitude betrayed in the submission is one that railway passengers are frequently a burden and it would be much nicer if they organised themselves like airline passengers - checking in well ahead of time, paying surcharges for their bags, and above all paying what the operator demands and not
being there unless the operator wants them!
Yes, it certainly reads in that kind of manner, and it suggests that airlines work the way they do because it's good customer service, not because the safety situation is rather different.

The IC part basically seems to describe "this is how VT can make most money", not necessarily the right model for the future, though it's an interesting one.

Their regional proposal seems quite good, though, and basically seems to be the highly successful original Chiltern model (before Arriva got their grubby mitts on it).
 

duffield

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Unless you somehow massively increase capacity this is lunacy.

You'd have Glasgow trains leaving (say) Euston with 10% of seats free (due to no-shows), plenty of standing room as well, and hundreds left behind, and then (say) it was the service stopping at Milton Keynes/Coventry/Birmingham International etc. it could soon be half empty all the rest of the way to Glasgow.
You'd get riots at Euston on the first day it was introduced.

Anyone needing proper flexible travel would give up on rail (it's 1700, I want to travel now, I'll pay full wack and stand (probably only for the first part of the journey anyhow) but all services are fully reserved until 2000).

The 'slot bidding' would presumably mean more infrequent services in the off peak which would discourage people from travelling by rail at all in the off peak due to reduced flexiiblity.

What we've got is not stisfactory. these proposals would make it much worse.

The only things that will improve the situation are longer trains and infrastucture improvements to increase capacity; once you have reasonable capacity there's no need to try to stop people travelling.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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This caught my eye in the Virgin submission:
In contrast, everyone understands what’s involved in flying.
It’s almost impossible for customers to get on the wrong plane,
It's a while back now, but once when we were boarding a Swissair flight to Zurich at Heathrow we were preceded up the steps by one R.Branson and family, who were apparently off on a skiing holiday.
As we reached the aircraft door, there was a commotion inside, and the Bransons reappeared in some panic and fled down the steps.
It turned out they wanted the Geneva flight alongside...
And they know a bit about flying.
 

cactustwirly

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One of the big problems in the UK is that we have very much gone for a high frequency "skip stop" approach, and unlike the Germans we don't have a RegionalBahn/RegionalExpress at least every two hours over every route that never has compulsory reservation. (I know DB don't have it on ICE either, but the concept is one that is needed to ensure people can travel if they need to).

For instance, if you extended the LNR Trent Valley service from Crewe up to Carlisle, then you might just get away with it, as there would be parallel services on the whole WCML.
I don't get what you're trying to say
DB operate an hourly long ICE/IC train that calls at all principle stations, whereas VT run 3tph which skip stop the intermediate stations
 

Bletchleyite

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This caught my eye in the Virgin submission:

It's a while back now, but once when we were boarding a Swissair flight to Zurich at Heathrow we were preceded up the steps by one R.Branson and family, who were apparently off on a skiing holiday.
As we reached the aircraft door, there was a commotion inside, and the Bransons reappeared in some panic and fled down the steps.
It turned out they wanted the Geneva flight alongside...
And they know a bit about flying.
Yes, I noticed that. I have been boarded by staff onto the wrong flight before...
 

Bletchleyite

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I don't get what you're trying to say
DB operate an hourly long ICE/IC train that calls at all principle stations, whereas VT run 3tph which skip stop the intermediate stations
My point is that with the "skip stopping" VT operate the local services as well as the IC, and so that leaves no "base" walk-up local service on those routes.

To make this acceptable, a minimum of an hourly (high capacity) local service (e.g. 12.350) MUST in my view be operated on any such route. This will require VT services to be lopped to fit it in, making things look more like what DB do.

It is not, for example, acceptable for the only local service between Warrington Bank Quay and Crewe (say) to be a reservations compulsory, dynamically priced service.
 

RLBH

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The IC part basically seems to describe "this is how VT can make most money", not necessarily the right model for the future, though it's an interesting one.
Quite apart from the idea of pretending that trains are just low flying aeroplanes, which is downright objectionable, the idea of buying paths in perpetuity is an interesting one. Not least because it would ossify the timetable, making service improvements almost impossible.
 

Mitchell Hurd

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Where possible there should also be longer/additional trains run when there are major events. The May issue of Modern Railways reports that GWR are planning to run 12 coach 387s to move large number of passengers on additional services to Cardiff on rugby match days once the electrification is complete.
Obviously it is not always possible to run additional trains but those that do run should be at the maximum possible length.

Sporting fixtures are one type of event where you do not want to be tied to a specific train home. e.g. if you are at the Cricket and it rains all afternoon, everyone will go home early. similarly a day to the seaside is very weather dependent what time people would want to return home (or travel at all).
Isn't the line between Cardiff Central and Bristol Parkway electrified yet? Looks like we need a Class 67 (as I assume all can do 125mph) to get to and from Cardiff!
 

Bletchleyite

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Quite apart from the idea of pretending that trains are just low flying aeroplanes, which is downright objectionable, the idea of buying paths in perpetuity is an interesting one. Not least because it would ossify the timetable, making service improvements almost impossible.
Well, quite. Planes are different, because there's little in the way of heavy constraints once they are up in the air.
 

cactustwirly

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My point is that with the "skip stopping" VT operate the local services as well as the IC, and so that leaves no "base" walk-up local service on those routes.

To make this acceptable, a minimum of an hourly (high capacity) local service (e.g. 12.350) MUST in my view be operated on any such route. This will require VT services to be lopped to fit it in, making things look more like what DB do.

It is not, for example, acceptable for the only local service between Warrington Bank Quay and Crewe (say) to be a reservations compulsory, dynamically priced service.
The same goes for DB, most of their Long Distance services are like XC, where most people don't travel for the whole length of the journey, but travel between pairs of intermediate stations.
 

HOOVER29

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Virgin trains bah.
I wouldn’t trust beardy Branson as far as I could through the man!!
I’ll put the flags out the day his lot goes belly up & Virgin clear off.
Used to be able to book advanced tickets from Tamworth to Euston & return, have a long day in the capital for around £30-£40
Sooner clog the M1 up once or twice a month with pollution & drive the 90 mins to Watford junction & get a local in.
Works for my next door neighbour. He does it 3 days a week & a chap down the road who works for the BBC, works for him too.
 

underbank

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I think the first sentence of the submission proper makes virgin's attitude clear: "The vast majority of long-distance fail travel is discretionary." - so they don't think they have a duty as a public service to make sure people can travel. I strongly disagree with that.
Given climate change etc., surely the govt and industry should be trying to make rail travel easier and cheaper, i.e. they should be attracting customers who currently travel by air, car or coach. But this gives the impression they're not really that bothered about people with other options. Making it harder to travel at short notice or making it more expensive, it'll just mean people use their cars instead, even for long journeys.
 

squizzler

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Overcrowding can be very anxiety inducing to many people. There are so-called hidden disabilities which can result in suffers being unable - or make it especially distressing - to travel on services which are crowded. We must not only think of accessibility in terms of wheelchairs!

Besides there is the rail operator's own edge of quality to consider and people standing down the aisles does not result in a premium ambience. See how far you get ordering dinner in a fully booked restaurant on the basis that you don't need a table and you can just eat standing amongst the other diners.

*note* Some here might recognise the above arguments: not being aware of this thread I posted them a broader discussion related to the RDG fares reform in the speculation forum.
 
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matt_world2004

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Contrary to virgins pr fluff with this statement. Their submission while it makes it sound like standing would not happen on long distance services. Their submission doesn't rule out having standing only reservations. Perhaps at a cheaper price.
 

RLBH

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It's not entirely clear from their submission whether standing-only reservations would be available at all times, or only during disruption.
 

SamYeager

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It's not entirely clear from their submission whether standing-only reservations would be available at all times, or only during disruption.
Does that mean you think Virgin believe that punters will be able to predict disruption?
 

Bletchleyite

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Does that mean you think Virgin believe that punters will be able to predict disruption?
Eh?

The point was that if a train was cancelled they would issue some "no seat" reservations for use on other trains.

Can you imagine the queues at Euston, though? It's bad enough with a 200-seat aircraft. Now when it's a 1500-capacity HS2 train?
 

matt_world2004

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I am assuming there would be no safety reason for standing only reservations to be banned. Therefore it would be up to the operator to decide weather to operate them or not. And most operators in a bid to maximise yield would offer them.
 

boxy321

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Quite. The idea that local passengers could be barred from West Coast services running on the Coventry-Birmingham-Wolverhampton axis is laughable. They are a critical part of providing the capacity needed to shift the number of passengers there, due to the number of paths they eat up on what is essentially a two-track railway.
LNWR services would need to be 12 coaches long and provide more direct sevices. The disgraceful 1st class would need sorting too. The pendolinos would be half full too.
 

Bantamzen

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That's a great recipe for tactically throwing a hand-grenade onto the table just when it's time to go. My experience in important meetings is that attendees time is more valuable than a few tens of pounds on train fares, and if the meeting didn't get through the agends then there was an on-cost to deal with the matter another time. I can only assume that some employers who obsess over fares are either low payers, or they regard attendees as token representatives rather than persons sent to do genuine work for the company.
I get what you're saying, but depending on what company or organisation you work for, people could be travelling for various parts of the country & options can often be limited for travel home even from large cities. If important matters are on the agenda, then it is the responsibility of the organiser to ensure adequate time is given & where late running is possible, overnight provision be catered for. But meeting etiquette is a little off topic, so.. ;)

Back on the subject matter, its all way too early to speculate on how one TOC's thoughts will impact on the future direction. However, it is my firm belief that if the model of a privately run railway system continues to be the preferred method by this and future governments, and there is nothing to suggest this direction will change any time soon, radical changes are needed to the franchise system. And make no mistake, the airline modelling will be looked at seriously because for those airlines that have made it work, it can & does offer a combination of cheap fares (albeit with a myriad of caveats), flexibility (if you are willing to pay for it), bolt on products (which equals direct & unregulated profits for operators), and ultimately a "simplified" system for customers to make their choices from. It might not be the right direction to go, but as things stand it may be the easiest shift to make under a wholly privatised industry.
 

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