Transport for Wales Only fares

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Starmill

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I have recently arrived at Manchester Piccadilly for the 2236 service to Stockport. As I have taken this service before I'm aware that there used to be a single fare with a railcard available on it at £1.50. I went to the ticket machine and typed in Stockport, and added the railcard. These were the fares I was offered:
IMG_20190916_224324.jpg
IMG_20190916_224305.jpg

As I couldn’t see anything at that price, I thought the fare might no longer be available. I quickly consulted the National Rail Enquiries app:
Screenshot_20190916_224435.jpg

Sure enough it was still shown as available.

I went into the ticket office and explained I'd been having a problem with the ticket machine. The ticket seller suggested that they would be unlikely to find a ticket that wasn't on the ticket machine, and after initially saying they couldn't find anything, after a couple of minutes of looking they did manage to sell me a ticket for just £1.50, rather than the range of more expensive options:

IMG_20190916_224756.jpg

I note that the ticket now says 'TFWRS' rather than Transport for Wales as it used to. I don't know if that's related.

I very much got the impression that if I hadn't asked for a £1.50 ticket I wouldn't have received one. This rather implies that the customer is expected to already know what ticket they want when they go to a ticket machine or ticket office, when actually what I wanted was a single for the next available train to Stockport, which as I had looked on the screen at the station was the 2236.
 
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yorkie

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If a customer asks for a ticket to Stockport, and a TfW service is operating at a time which may suit the customer's needs, the ticket office is obliged to offer that fare.

If they do not, they are not complying with impartial retailing rules, which is a breach of Virgin Trains' franchise agreement. It's also a breach of consumer law too.
 

causton

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And some staff wonder why people buy tickets online most of the time now, when the first thing the staff member said was that the ticket wouldn't exist, despite it already having done so for a while, just has a slightly different name now :lol:
 

Starmill

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The other interesting thing is that the ticket office at Manchester Piccadilly closes at 2230. So if I'd been just a couple of minutes later there would have been no way for me to obtain the correct ticket before boarding.
 

Joe Paxton

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I'm rather suspect that its description as a "TFW RS ONLY" ticket - presumably on the clerk's TIS display as well as being printed on the ticket - may have been a significant issue.

Transport for Wales Rail Services might the full mouthful of a name for the operator, but "Transport for Wales only" as a description is what should appear on the tickets (and TISs).

(Or is the issue that Transport for Wales might also become a brand for bus services in the principality, so the "RS" element on a rail ticket is deemed necessary? This seems unlikely though, as "TfW Rail" would surely have been the preferred description...)
 

Starmill

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I assume that 'TfW RS' is intended to differentiate the Train Operating Company from the public sector organisation set up by the Welsh Government.
 

Indigo2

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Nice example of how an easily avoidable, straightforward data quality issue causes immense passenger confusion in real life, illustrating why some people are skeptical of claims by RDG and the TOCs that they're just itching to go on making fares easier to understand, if only the pesky DfT would get on with tearing up the regulatory framework underpinning their sale! :p

As far as I can see the problem is that the route code on these dedicated TOC fares was changed at the September fares round (taking effect from Sunday 8 September) from the well-established code 00044 to the new code 00272, and:
  1. TfW did not add a "friendly" detailed description for the new route code to the IDMS data, leaving retail systems with no option but to use the default "TFW RS ONLY", and
  2. Either
    (a) TfW did not remind Virgin (operator of the TVMs at Manchester Piccadilly) of the changes and warn them that they might need to update their systems to sell the new fares,
    (b) Virgin did not realise that the machines needed to be updated, or
    (c) the machines did not show the fares because there was no "friendly" description available for the new route code
I wonder is there anyone on here with knowledge of those Worldline TVMs used by Virgin who would be able to confirm which of 2(a), (b) or (c) was the problem?
 

Haywain

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I wonder is there anyone on here with knowledge of those Worldline TVMs used by Virgin who would be able to confirm which of 2(a), (b) or (c) was the problem?
I don’t have the knowledge of those TVMs but based on an issue with another Worldline system and another franchise name change I would say that option b is most likely, albeit with the caveat that it may not have been within VT’s control. Fortunately (?) they don’t use a Worldline system in ticket offices.
 

PeterC

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If a customer asks for a ticket to Stockport, and a TfW service is operating at a time which may suit the customer's needs, the ticket office is obliged to offer that fare.

If they do not, they are not complying with impartial retailing rules, which is a breach of Virgin Trains' franchise agreement. It's also a breach of consumer law too.
now is the customer supposed to be interrogated about their itinerary or just sold a ticket specific to the next available train?

The use-case that I have in mind is somebody buying a ticket with the intention of using it later in the day any train.
 

exesoundtech

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The other interesting thing is that the ticket office at Manchester Piccadilly closes at 2230. So if I'd been just a couple of minutes later there would have been no way for me to obtain the correct ticket before boarding.
As it happens the new software on the Northern TVMs at Piccadilly would have been able to sell you a TfW only fare, so long as you chose the TfW services on the journey planner screens. When I tried this, they can be spotted as they offer the lowest "tickets from" price on the buttons, or indeed interrogating the "i" buttons to find the TfW ones.
 

Y Ddraig Coch

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I'm rather suspect that its description as a "TFW RS ONLY" ticket - presumably on the clerk's TIS display as well as being printed on the ticket - may have been a significant issue.

Transport for Wales Rail Services might the full mouthful of a name for the operator, but "Transport for Wales only" as a description is what should appear on the tickets (and TISs).

(Or is the issue that Transport for Wales might also become a brand for bus services in the principality, so the "RS" element on a rail ticket is deemed necessary? This seems unlikely though, as "TfW Rail" would surely have been the preferred description...)
Sorry to be picky, but Wales is a Country not a princpality! A bugbear of mine I just wanted to clear up. Sorry to pop off topic for a moment.
 

Starmill

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It’s very easy to overlook a new ticket on a new route if nobody has briefed you about it.
From my point of view the ticket is one I've booked many times before so...
Again this relies on Admin knowing that the new ticket/route is coming and making it available for sale
It's not clear what this even means? What relies on the Admin?
 

Clip

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It's not clear what this even means? What relies on the Admin?

The ticket issuing system and Ticket vending machines - they dont just magically have fares appear - there is an administrator who has to enable the function to sell the ticket via such Ticket issuing systems
 

Wallsendmag

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Most TVMs aren’t blindly set up to sell or even ToD any ticket that appears in the fares feed. I know that S&B struggle with this and Worldline and Flowbird machines will need the new route/ticket to be added to the list of products/routes already available for sale/collection. Looking after both TVMs and Gateline logic is one of the more frustrating aspects of my role. You can get everything working just as you want then a new ticket/ route is introduced and the first warning you have is when people complain that the tickets can’t be sold/collected or open the gates.
 

Wallsendmag

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There are many many locations /tickets /routes /discounts that aren’t available at every location. For instance some TVMs recently had a destination of Heaton TMD as a destination. There are all sorts of non GB locations that TVMs can’t sell tickets to but are in the fares feed. Not to mention some very strange routes . Not Valid for Travel would be one of my favourites.
 

Starmill

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Looking after both TVMs and Gateline logic is one of the more frustrating aspects of my role. You can get everything working just as you want then a new ticket/ route is introduced and the first warning you have is when people complain that the tickets can’t be sold/collected or open the gates.
So effectively this is an admission from an industry insider that there's endemic overcharging, or at the very least offering of less than the full range of tickets without explanation of this fact, almost every single time fares change (which happens pretty much daily now, somewhere in the country!). I agree with Neil that this seems an 'odd situation'. It seems abundantly clear to me that, had I not been a frequent traveller, I would have been overcharged for my journey because I used a ticket machine.

As it happens the new software on the Northern TVMs at Piccadilly would have been able to sell you a TfW only fare, so long as you chose the TfW services on the journey planner screens. When I tried this, they can be spotted as they offer the lowest "tickets from" price on the buttons, or indeed interrogating the "i" buttons to find the TfW ones.
They didn't seem to be available to sell tickets at that time.

Good to see Virgin Trains using "Young Persons Railcard"! :lol:
They've also chosen the description 'By Via Tpe Only' which probably means almost nothing at all to the typical customer, just as 'TFW RS' does.

The previous option, until 2 weeks ago, displayed 'Via Arriva Trains Wales only'.
 
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kieron

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There are all sorts of non GB locations that TVMs can’t sell tickets to but are in the fares feed. Not to mention some very strange routes . Not Valid for Travel would be one of my favourites.
It certainly proves that there are some routes you shouldn't sell, even if the data you have doesn't have a "don't sell this" field. Dunoon-Gourock, for example, has fares which differ only in the route code used.

That said, new routes aren't created all that often. If someone was sent an e-mail to say some "PLUS HS1 NOT UND" tickets have been spotted in the fare feed, and that they are all on Southeastern routes, then they may be able to work out what to do about the route before it goes live.

In this case, TfW seem to have split the existing "TFW Only" fares five ways, starting on the Sunday before last.

The "TfW Only" (00044) route is now only used for the Chester-Liverpool route.
00269 (TFWRS Only) is used for Birmingham-Shrewsbury.
00270 (TFW RS Only) is used for Manchester-Warrington.
00271 (TFWRS Only) is used for Cheltenham-Gloucester.
00272 (TFW RS Only) is used for Manchester-Stockport-Crewe.
 

Haywain

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If someone was sent an e-mail to say some "PLUS HS1 NOT UND" tickets have been spotted in the fare feed, and that they are all on Southeastern routes, then they may be able to work out what to do about the route before it goes live.
That’s a big ‘if’.
 

paddington

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I noticed that some GTR and SWR S&B machines can't sell tickets to stations like Low Moor and Ilkeston, nor can they sell some TfW only or LNWR/WMT only fares (when using the tickets from other stations function) even though they do know about the existence of TfW (rather than ATW) etc.
 

globetrotter

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Reading all this, it seems to me to be a valid question to ask if all these operator-controlled ticket machines with their different programming and interfaces work in the public interest?

What might be better is a ONE standardised new machine required to be used across the country by all operators, with larger higher resolution screen, programmed in such a way as to be operator impartial and offer the best / cheapest fare for any journey. It also lends itself to centrally controlled online software upgrades rolled out only after beta testing on a limited number of machines. A second, smaller screen could show applicable fare conditions, routeing and changes etc. or seat reservations thus addressing some of the complications of UK rail ticketing and rules.

A ticket machine can never offer the search facilities that the internet has, but the idea should be to meet a set of objectives - an easy simple to use interface but behind that a lot of computing power that finds and sets out the relevant choices. Often, as in this thread, one's search requirements change once one discovers more about the fares and fare conditions or how long it takes for a given train journey. That could then lead the public to spend more time at the machine, searching for possibilities, tying up the machine. So no simple answers, but what we see in this thread are all the problems with the existing machines unable to sell certain tickets or failing to present the customer with appropriate fares even for simple journeys.

This might be a subject better addressed in a separate thread, so please don't go off topic here.
 

Starmill

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An anonymous source has messaged me to say that this is being looked into by thr ticket machine supplier urgently.
 
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