Stevenage - London fares now less "Easier" than ever

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by rdwarr, 3 Jan 2019.

  1. rdwarr

    rdwarr Member

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    There has been talk of an "Easier Fares" initiative to reduce the complexity of ticketing and give the travelling public a reasonable shot at getting the best fare for their intended journey. However, things seem to be getting increasingly muddled.
    Taking the example in the title the following Standard Day Return fares (to London Terminals and excluding "Smart" varieties) are now available (a similar assortment of Travelcards exists):
    £22.70 - Anytime - No restrictions
    £20.10 - Anytime - Valid only on LNER services
    £17.90 - Off Peak - Valid to depart after 0929, no evening restrictions
    £17.40 - Super Off Peak - Not valid to arrive before 1055, no evening return between 1614 and 1916
    £15.90 - Off Peak - LNER Services Only - Valid to depart after 0930, no evening return between 1630 and 1901
    £12.00 - Super Off Peak - Valid weekends and Bank Holidays only
    £9.90 - Off Peak - LNER Services Only - Valid weekends and Bank Holidays only
    Given the above, what chance does a ticket clerk (let alone a machine) have of making sure the passenger receives the best value ticket for their journey?
     
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  3. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    Quite easy for the one LNER machine at Stevenage select your trains and pick the cheapest ticket applicable.
     
  4. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Each company sets its own terms and conditions and LNER are allowed to set their own LNER Only flow for this journey.

    The intention appears to be to go down the 'airline' route of choosing when you want to travel, and then seeing what the fare for that journey is, rather than buying a fare and it being obvious what services you can use.

    If the two companies concerned were ordered to simplify the offering, GTR would abolish the Super Off Peak, and LNER would be forced to withdraw their fares. The end result would be a fare rise for many.

    Where it gets really confusing is that LNER and GTR have very different ideas on what is "Super" off peak and what is off peak, further varying it depending on whether it's an outward or return portion and whether it's a period return or a day return. However they are not allowed to collude and if it was simplified, it would result in fares that were hitherto valid being invalidated.

    There is no way to simplify the fares on offer without either increasing the amount some people pay OR increasing subsidy. Neither of these are politically acceptable at the present time, so the status quo has to prevail.

    The only reason it's a big problem is because passengers can't excess away a TOC specific restriction, though this debate has been done before. I will see if I can dig out a link... edit: found it: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/who-makes-the-excess-rules.174733/
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2019
  5. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Which would be absolutely fine if journeys were priced on a single leg basis.

    Of course, walk-up UK rail journeys are not priced that way and, as many people do not know the exact time they will return, this
    is not as easy as it might sound.
     
  6. xotGD

    xotGD Established Member

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    I love the way Off-Peak is defined by departure time and Super Off-Peak is defined by arrival time. They can't even be consistent in how restrictions are defined.
     
  7. rdwarr

    rdwarr Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. Bear in mind that the "Weekday Super Off Peak" only appeared this week alongside the beneficial removal of evening restriction on the Off Peak. For just 50p less it doesn't seem worth the hassle.
    I doubt most occasional day-trippers are aware of the LNER fares (or the ticket machine) and will ask for a "Day Return to London". I wonder if LNER staff are aware that the non-specific Off Peak tickets are now valid on their peak evening services or still announcing otherwise?
     
  8. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    I foresee another 'Paddington style' problem regarding the use of off-peak tickets on LNER services
     
  9. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I've witnessed Paddington style arguments at King's Cross; they are just not quite as common.

    Ticket restrictions out of King's Cross are already very complex, if not more so than Paddington given the multiple operators, and the general principle that staff need to allow people through or look up the restrictions, rather than reject valid tickets, remains unchanged.
     
  10. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Noticed the changes of Cambridge-London fares (Any Permitted)

    Basically Off Peak Day Returns and Off Peak Day Travelcards increased in priced with the fares change, but now have evening restrictions removed.

    New Super Off Peak Day Return weekday fare introduced at roughly old CDR rate, but retaining evening restrictions (slightly more droconian, as with the morning)

    Off-Peak return retains narrower 1 hour evening restriction.

    Good news for the passenger, but complex to understand!
     
  11. Verulamius

    Verulamius Member

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  12. rdwarr

    rdwarr Member

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    New LNER announcement?
    "Off-Peak tickets ARE valid for travel on this service EXCEPT for the ones that are only valid on LNER trains." :lol:
     
  13. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    As a regular Stevenage traveller this is reasonably sensible and in effect removes the evening peak restrictions imposed by FCC several years ago as the differential between the Off Peak Day and Super Off Peak Day Return tickets is only 50p (30p for railcard holders). For the sake of 50p/30p you might as well pay the extra.

    It's also worth noting that the Weekday Super Off Peak Day Return is the same price as the old Off Peak Day Return ticket £17.40 - the two tickets having the same restrictions, so effectively a fares freeze!

    Of course circumnavigating the evening peak restrictions was simple to do anyway - it just means I can purchase an Off Peak Day Return from Stevenage to London Terminals although I did rather enjoy using an Off Peak ticket from another London station that had favourable evening peak restrictions :lol:

    The complification is the LNER Only fares - they're really not needed and I bet the vast majority of them get used incorrectly on GTR services:

    The Anytime Day Return is effectively useless - there are only 2 LNER trains between Stevenage and Kings Cross before 09:30, one at 08:59 the other at 09:04
    The Off Peak Day Return could be useful depending on the time of the return.
    The Weekend Super Off Peak Day Return is unhelpful as the LNER service at Stevenage is far less than on weekdays.

    No-one travelling from Stevenage to London is going to choose their trains, especially not their return one. It's effectively a turn up and go journey, not one you plan in advance and choose specific trains for.
     
  14. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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  15. rdwarr

    rdwarr Member

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  16. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    Are these changes to restore passenger numbers after the problems with the introduction of the Thameslink timetable?

    The increase in complexity seems to fly in the face of the desire of many passengers to have Oyster style fares extended out into the home counties and a move towards that structure.

    The imposition of a 0630-0930 and 1600-1900 peak weekday single and off-peak single at all other times would be rather simpler than this myriad of fares.
     
  17. t0ffeeman

    t0ffeeman Member

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    Those posters displaying the zones for the evening peak restrictions now need to come down then, as the Off Peak Return is now valid. However they are still up and haven't been updated
     
  18. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    A similar structure came in on the Bedford route a year or so ago so I don’t think it’s anything to do with the shambles.

    While I understand the desire for simpler fares, moving to a 0630-0930 Peak and Off Peak at other times would represent an overall price increase, especially for weekend travel and would not be in the interests of passengers.
     
  19. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It's also planned for LNR, but implementation was delayed until I think February. Could the Government be driving it?
     
  20. Gerald Fiennes

    Gerald Fiennes Member

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    £9.90 day return on LNER sounds a real bargain for what used to be a s/u only stop; the fares system will be complex but no doubt loads of people will find this fare (and be disappointed when they discover the train only stops every two hours)....
     
  21. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Isn't it only every 2 hours on a Sunday?

    A brief look at RTT at a random weekday and it looks to be 2 trains an hour (the Newark/York stopper & half the Leeds services) Kings Cross - Stevenage looks roughly half hourly whereas inbound the two services are within 5 minutes of each other
     
  22. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    The weekday service is decent, Sundays is appalling.

    I strongly suspect most of the LNER only tickets get misused. Southbound the trains are often a few minutes late arriving at Stevenage so a fast Thameslink train will usually pull in while waiting. Most people will simply get on the first train.
     
  23. Alfonso

    Alfonso Member

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    I've never understood why we expect it to be easy to get the best value (not always cheapest) ticket for a journey. I've no idea if my cornflakes, car insurance, or washing machine purchases were the best, but in all cases, like with train tickets, by doing some research I could make a more informed choice, or I could just buy what seemed reasonable as life's too short. The only way to make sure nobody misses out on a good deal is to make sure there are no good deals, which benefits nobody. Sorry, rant over.
     
  24. Gerald Fiennes

    Gerald Fiennes Member

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    Whoops, I got that wrong. Whenever I use that route it always feels like the TL train comes first!
     
  25. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    That's what happens in reality, people just get the first train. There's no significant difference between the fast Thameslink trains (3 an hour) or the less frequent LNER service.

    I strongly suspect most passengers with LNER Only tickets actually travel on the Thameslink service, at least on one direction.
     
  26. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    I find it harder to understand why a fundamental part of the national infrastructure should be putting up hoops that need to be jumped through in order to get a good value ticket to travel on it.
     
  27. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    Because a reasonably priced rail system for all would be at the expense of those who get mega cheap fares.

    I wouldn't mind if we had proper demand management. The mega cheap fares (on bookable inter-city trains at least) should be stand bys to fill the last few seats.
     
  28. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    So? That seems fair to me.
     
  29. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    And to me - I suspect Peter C's point is that to switch to such a system, and in so doing remove the cheapest fares would be politically unpopular. The same newspapers that currently run "It's cheaper to fly!" stories about walk-up fares* would run "They've taken away the cheap fares!" stories without noting that the walk-up fares have become reasonable.


    *Which I agree are disgraceful, but the flying comparison isn't a fair one.
     
  30. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    The problem here is that you need future knowledge to get the best ticket. Once you've looked up the cheapest corn flakes it makes no difference when you then choose to eat them.
     
  31. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    The late Lewis Carroll's unpublished epic ' Alice's Adventures in Railwonderland' and its sequel 'Alice Through the Glass Door Between Standard and First Class' would make fascinating reading. Oh, how we'd laugh at the stupidity exhibited, and congratulate ourselves on progressing so far since. :lol:
     

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