Ticket Prices Cost Per Mile North vs South

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Metal_gee_man, 8 Jan 2019.

  1. Metal_gee_man

    Metal_gee_man Member

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    There will loads of people with examples I assume but in an attempt to get some clarity on pricing I have added a comparison:

    South: Dover Priory to Sittingbourne £15.90 off peak rtn (roughly 32 miles apart)
    North: Scunthorpe to Doncaster £10.10 (Northern) £13.50 (TPE) off peak rtn (roughly 32 miles apart)

    Are there lots of other fare disparities across the network North vs South and are some of these disparities because of extra subsides handed to some northern operators?

    Just trying to provoke some thoughts as I know there are exceptions to this rule, with very cheap advanced tickets or by the nature of the route Leeds - Manchester it can sometimes work out a lot more expensive travelling TPE vs Northern etc
     
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  3. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Not this again! This always causes ludicrous arguments.

    It's best summarised as follows: lots of fares in the South East are great value, but not neccesarily much use because of very tight time restrictions (e.g GN where it's super cheap but only at the weekend). Season ticket and Anytime fares are sometimes astonishingly expensive. In Northern England some good value fares exist if within a former PTE area or priced by Northern. There far less variance (often none) between peak and off peak fares. If the ticket is in the North but not priced by Northern or in a former PTE area, it will probably be a ripoff (e.g. Berwick-upon-Tweed to Newcastle, Manchester to Leeds etc) and almost always better value for money to drive. Long-distance farwes don't conform to this analysis. Fares in the Midlands and East Anglia are kind of like fares on Northern, except where they're not.

    A totally different and incomparable situation applies in Scotland and to a lesser extent Wales. Everyone always forgets about South West England.
     
  4. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I haven't even begun to consider the effects of Advance tickets in my analysis and it would take weeks to be complete, frankly.

    You don't need to look that far to get ludicrous disparities. For example Manchester to Leeds same day return off peak, about 42 miles, £23.40. Bristol to Cheltenham, same day return off peak, about 42 miles, £10.
     
  5. Camden

    Camden Established Member

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    Unless you have access to the data and are willing to spend the time crunching every single (used) fare across franchises, you will not and cannot get the clarity you're looking for. You will get examples of value, and you will get examples of extortionate prices all over.

    FYI I was privy to a piece of research work by a chamber of commerce which demonstrated that typical price charged per mile was not any lower in the north (and in some key instances consistently exceeded it).

    The suggestion that people aren't already paying a high price for the poor level of service received is merely propaganda, designed to justify price increases to cover investment needed to reduce the subsidy demands created by previous years of underinvestment.
     
  6. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Out of interest, has this research ever made it to the press ? Too many of our governing class in London still seem to be under the impression that we're all paying dirt cheap fares up here for all our journeys.
     
  7. Camden

    Camden Established Member

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    Not directly, although you may notice some press comparisons being more even handed these days. It was used, before the recent fiascos, to support a constructive argument for further investment. Reducing subsidy by reducing and addressing service handicaps, rather than reducing services and increasing prices.

    The timetable chaos, poorly conceived projects and strike/soft-strike action has pretty much undone those years of persuasion, so now the north has new trains and, as far as the government is concerned, a big bill to pay.

    The trains being replaced were mainly life expired anyway, redevelopment work mostly minimal and late, and even with that investment the amount spent is still paltry versus what's been missing for decades. Any insinuation that people should pay any more than they do at the moment should be strongly contested. I've no doubt that people will need to counter such suggestions.
     
  8. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Quite. Although the DfT seems content to charge us more for a six day week service.
     
  9. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    In fewer words, this is exactly what I was trying to say earlier.
     
  10. Randomer

    Randomer Member

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    Yet Cheltenham to Longbridge, again about 40 miles or so by road, is £26.40 SVR due to being set by Crosscountry (who also withdrew the day off peak return) rather than GWR who actually reduced the price of the Bristol to Cheltenham ticket a few years ago. So you can also get huge disparities in distance travelled from the same station.
     
  11. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    I did some analysis of cost-per-mile (well, actually, my system used cost-per-km, but it's the same principle) a little while ago.

    Here's a quick "heatmap" rendering showing the average price per km of the cheapest single fares (Anytime, Off-Peak and Super-Off-Peak) from every station to every other station where fares exist in the UK (based on last year's fares data):
    [​IMG]
    (Image is copyright by me. Map based on Microsoft/Bing mapping data from Excel's "3D Maps" feature.)

    This shows some clear trends:
    • There's an obvious east/west disparity north of London. Probably partially explainable by the fact this data includes the extremely cheap Super-Off-Peak fares set by West Midlands/London NorthWestern, but it does seem to extend well beyond their area.
    • The South East is cheaper than the surrounding area, creating a bit of a North Thames/South Thames disparity.
    • Scotland is very cheap, but the east/west disparity does extend into the Lowlands.
    • Fares from the Isle of Wight are very expensive!
    • Fares from Okehampton and Stamford Courtney had to be excluded because they skewed the data due to having very low fares (although only to 36 other GWR stations).
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2019
  12. alistairlees

    alistairlees Member

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    Interesting map, nice piece of work. Would be useful to see a key / scale, but that's not meant as criticism. Fares from the IoW might come across as expensive because 1. They involve ferry (or hovercraft) 2. The rail distance data for the ferries is missing or very low (can't remember which) compared to reality. Excellent stuff though!
     
  13. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    That's a very interesting map, thanks for posting. I notice that there are a number of red areas around Yorkshire. I wonder if this has anything to do with there being a lack of off-peak fares for some flows around here.
     
  14. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    The data ranges from an average of 27.4p/km (Garelochhead) to 46.8p/km (Ryde Pier Head) which should give an idea of the scale. Distances are as-the-crow-flies (based on locations from the ORR's "Estimates of Station Usage" spreadsheet), but yes, it's probably the ferry/hovercraft that inflates fares from the IoW; I'm not sure how the commercial arrangement works here, do the ferry companies get a set amount per rail passenger?

    I might produce some further analysis once I get this year's fares data (the processing needed takes a few days to run). I think ATOC/RDG's data website should have the data today, but for some reason my password never works and I have to reset it every time (this happens repeatedly, I'm not just forgetting it), so I'll have a look when I get home from work.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2019
  15. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    That is a very interesting display indeed!
    Is there a reason why the Esk Valley line to Whitby, and the Saltburn branch are red? Fares were cut on these routes a couple of years ago, and have never been known particularly as expensive. Of course this only really applies to local journeys as far as Middlesbrough / Darlington.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2019
  16. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    The colour of a particular station is based on the average per-km price of the cheapest single fare to every other station for which a fare exists, so even if the local journeys are cheap, the longer distances might be more expensive than average. As it's based on as-the-crow-flies distances, if the rail routes are circuitous, the fares will likely also be higher than average. For branches like that, it's probably a combination of the two. There are plenty of places where the rail route is quite indirect (Whitby to Scarborough for a fairly extreme example, but travelling anywhere south, where the majority of stations are, requires going up to 25 miles East-North-East via Middlesbrough; it's probably a similar effect that raises prices on the north side of the Humber) and there appear to be a lack of "off-peak" single fares in the area, as suggested by @yorksrob.
     
  17. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Yes I see. Certainly a limitation of this type of approach. Fares within that small area are unusually low, but getting to or from it in either direction is unusually expensive.
     
  18. Ianigsy

    Ianigsy Member

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    That matches my experience- I've recently started using a West Yorkshire MCard for my commute as I work in Leeds, live in Otley (nearest station Menston) and currently have a regular medical appointment in Saltaire on a Monday evening. I was previously using First Bus tickets and didn't use the train at all but it turned out to be more economical and convenient than buying singles from Leeds to Saltaire and Saltaire or Shipley to Menston. In the past when travelling to Manchester at peak times, it's also been quite a bit cheaper to buy a peak return to Halifax or Todmorden - maximising the distance under an ex-PTE fare- and a return to Manchester with no afternoon peak restriction.
     
  19. JB_B

    JB_B Member

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    It's an interesting map but as you say the availability of very cheap WM/LNW (and Chiltern) fares from SE England through WM to NW England creates an obvious artefact. How does it look if you just include route 00000 ANY PERMITTED?

    More generally are you taking a simple arithmetic mean across all ~2,500 destintions and across SOS/SDS/SSS ? You'd expect the longest journeys to have the lowest £/km and since journeys from Cornwall or Caithness are going to be "long" for almost all UK destinations it's no surprise to see them as showing green on the map. I'm not sure this tells us too much about relative cost of regional rail travel.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2019
  20. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    The issue with that approach is that some flows have no 00000 (or 01000) fare. They only have routed fares (most commonly perhaps via London or not via London, but other many other routes prevail).
     
  21. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    The processing works something like this:
    • For each starting station:
      • Get the set of single fares ('SOS', 'SDS', 'SVS', 'CDS', 'OPS', 'SSS') from that station.
      • Exclude all but the cheapest fare from that set for each unique destination.
      • Calculate the cost per km for each of these fares.
      • Take the average.
    There's certainly some logic to that; particularly with Scotland. However, that doesn't explain why fares from Leeds (37.5p/km) are more than Manchester (32.5p/km) or why fares from the London area are cheaper than those from the East Midlands; Wellingborough is the 3rd most expensive origin on the mainland at 44.7p/km, but nearby Bedford is 514th at 37.3p/km. I suspect that Bedford being the edge of the "Network Area" probably plays into that one; a difference in pricing policy between "London Commuter" and "Intercity" routes.

    The WM/LNE and Chiltern super-off-peak fares can't explain all of that either.
     
  22. JB_B

    JB_B Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, @mallard. It would be interesting to map separately for each of the ticket types (I suspect things would look a bit different but I could be wrong.)
     
  23. ashworth

    ashworth Established Member

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    A very interesting map. I have suspected for some time that fares from the East Midlands and Yorkshire are unusually high. I have never quite understood why fares from northern cities to the East Coast resorts of Scarborough, Bridlington, Skegness etc are so much higher that to West Coast destinations like Blackpool, Southport and Morcambe.
    When I have been on holiday I have especially found Day Return fares in Devon and Cornwall, around the Kent Coast and right along the South Coast so much cheaper than fares in the East Midlands, East Anglia and Yorkshire.
     
  24. Ianigsy

    Ianigsy Member

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    If I remember rightly, a premium was applied to fares routed via the ECML after electrification- it certainly used to be the case that a return from Leeds to Glasgow (which assumed travel via York and Edinburgh) was noticeably more expensive than Shipley to Glasgow, based on the S&C.

    I think there's also a certain amount of geography at work, in that a station in an urban cluster is going to have a greater number of other stations with lower fares than, say, Whitby or Stranraer- and it just so happens that the biggest suburban networks are around London, Glasgow, Birmingham and the Liverpool-Manchester conurbation.

    I'm not surprised that Bidston-Wrexham comes out particularly low, either- going to a Llangollen gala a few years ago, I was amazed that a Birkenhead-Wrexham return came out at much the same amount as an Ilkley-Leeds peak return.
     
  25. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Interesing red cluster in Durham and Teeside.

    In my experience, the ECML between Darlington and York is a very expensive bit of line to travel over.

    This must also combine with the geography of the north east. There's fewer stations that it's possible to travel to in the 30-90 minute bracket than elsewhere in the country due to the low popluation density in North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Cumbria. From Tyneside, cheaper fares along the Tynes Valley off-set this a bit but from Teeside in particular this must have some impact too.
     
  26. Metal_gee_man

    Metal_gee_man Member

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    I think in some regard how sparsely populated some areas are, a premium for the lack of users at some stations justifies such a cost jump, but there aren't any patterns this actually follows one minute you find an example then 2 mins later you can find one to disprove it amazingly...

    Moderator note: If you wish to discuss proposals for new mileage based system, please do so here: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/my-suggestion-for-distance-based-pricing.176380/ and stay on topic in this thread, thanks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 11 Jan 2019
  27. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Of course the issue with that well-intentioned idea is that if all routes are equally priced, those routes with an awful service would carry the same price as routes with an excellent service. That might well put off passengers on the less well served routes (e.g. travelling from Upwey to Chetnole would become even less appealing than it already is), and increase overcrowding on the better routes.
     
  28. Dr Day

    Dr Day Member

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    Interesting analysis mallard.

    I understand that minor stations are normally clustered with bigger stations for longer distance fares - ie say Bere Alston and Bere Ferrers may have the same fare to Inverness but individual fares to Plymouth. Have you included every individual station to every other individual station (ie what would come up on National Rail Enquiries) or just the fares that are specifically priced from each station? If the latter there may be some differences simply due to the size of the clusters and the geographic extent of the fares individually priced from each station.

    Adding in advance fares would reflect what probably most people would use for a longer distance journey, although appreciate there are some very cheap fares with very limited availability which could skew the results,
     
  29. Dannys

    Dannys Member

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    In the initial example - using railmiles.me - Scunthorpe to Doncaster is actually 23 miles, not 32. This equates to 58p per mile return - or 29ppm each way. Dover to Sittingbourne is 32 miles - so 49p per mile return, or 25ppm each way.

    Depends on the rate per mile? If any such review were ever carried out, some fares would drop, others would increase (some significantly) - But if you take a standard "Single" fare - the typical rate across the country is (aprox) 45p. Short journeys would also need a minimum fare. Therefore, if I was setting up per mile charges - I would set the fare calculation formula as:

    Distance x 0.45p + £1.10 = Standard Single (Base fare)
    I would then have a standard uplift % for Super off peak, off peak, and anytime returns (Super off peak rtn = Single + 10%, Off Peak rtn = Single + 25%, Anytime rtn = Single +50%)

    In the above examples:
    York to Whitby, is 85 miles - £39.40 SDS, £59.10 ATR, £49.30 OPR, £43.30 SSR
    Nottingham to Peterborough is 51 miles - £24.10 SDS, £36.10 ATR, £30.10 OPR, £26.50 SSR
    Leicester to Peterborough = 52 miles, so £24.50 SDS, £36.70 ATR, £30.60 OPR, £26.90 SSR
    St Albans to London Thameslink = Depends where you class the destination as - but assume central london, 20 miles = £10.10 SDS, £15.20 SOR, £12.60 OPR, £11.10 SSR

    The reason price per mile doesn't work, is that there are so many different fare types exist for different journeys, not to mention differing restrictions. The only way this would work is having the same fare types available for every journey, with the same restrictions - but should Wick to Thurso have the same peak/off peak restrictions as paddington? Probably not!
     
  30. smsm1

    smsm1 Member

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    Interesting analysis and map. I'm wondering about maps showing only journeys that meet certain distance criteria e.g. average cost per km for stations that are less than 100km away as the crow flies, or average cost per km for as the crow flies journeys over 200km.
     
  31. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    Interesting map, but can you explain why you appear to have included the Ffestiniog Railway between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog, nothing between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth, or Machy east to Shrewsbury, other than 2 strange green spots? There also seem to be some blank areas along the Marches line.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 11 Jan 2019

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