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Virgin Summer Family Ticket Offer

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stanthedog

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Virgin are offering cut price open return tickets for a limited period for families of up to 4 (minimum 1 child/1 adult, max, 2children/2 adults) for journeys either starting or terminating from London Euston. There appears to be no restriction on any service so a family of 4 can choose to travel on a peak time service using one of these cut price offers.
For example, using the particular service I use, the 0514 peak time service departing Bangor Gwynedd to London Euston will cost a family of four £101 return. However, as a single passenger the cheapest restrictive ticket I can get for this service is £131 which involves returning on an off peak service on a specified date. An open return going out on the 0514 is £300+. I understand that the train operating companies are entitled to promote special offers for limited periods of time but personally I find this quite discriminatory. How can it be right that 4 passengers can travel for less cost than a single person. Surely there must be some form of legislation to prevent this?
 
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LexyBoy

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I don't think Virgin care about sticking two fingers up at their cash-cow peak fare passengers - they did something similar for years with their easement allowing Railcard-discounted Off-Peak tickets to be used on any train.

I'd be very surprised if there's any legal problem with this offer - it may not be intentional however in which case it may disappear soon.
 

Clip

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Virgin are offering cut price open return tickets for a limited period for families of up to 4 (minimum 1 child/1 adult, max, 2children/2 adults) for journeys either starting or terminating from London Euston. There appears to be no restriction on any service so a family of 4 can choose to travel on a peak time service using one of these cut price offers.
For example, using the particular service I use, the 0514 peak time service departing Bangor Gwynedd to London Euston will cost a family of four £101 return. However, as a single passenger the cheapest restrictive ticket I can get for this service is £131 which involves returning on an off peak service on a specified date. An open return going out on the 0514 is £300+. I understand that the train operating companies are entitled to promote special offers for limited periods of time but personally I find this quite discriminatory. How can it be right that 4 passengers can travel for less cost than a single person. Surely there must be some form of legislation to prevent this?

I can understand why you are frustrated but they can price how they want. You also must find a F&F railcard along with others discriminatory too then as they are all cheaper than a single person travelling.

But no, there isnt.
 

stanthedog

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I've seen my cheapest fare option on advance tickets go up from £86 to £131 (December last year) and now I see this happening which to me seems totally unfair. Its simply not right.
 

LexyBoy

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No, it's not.

Virgin's responsibility is to deliver profits for their shareholders. If they thought the best way to do this is to remove all Advance fares and raise the Anytime fare to over £9000, then they would. Luckily they don't.

Do you know any under 16s with laid-back parents who would fancy earning a few bob over the summer holidays accompanying strangers on the train to London?
 

CyrusWuff

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The catch is that anyone missing their booked train for the outward journey has to buy a new ticket...So if they did book a peak train, that's either going to mean a potentially long wait for an off-peak one, or paying an arm and a leg.
 

All Line Rover

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Virgin are offering cut price open return tickets for a limited period for families of up to 4 (minimum 1 child/1 adult, max, 2children/2 adults) for journeys either starting or terminating from London Euston. There appears to be no restriction on any service so a family of 4 can choose to travel on a peak time service using one of these cut price offers.
For example, using the particular service I use, the 0514 peak time service departing Bangor Gwynedd to London Euston will cost a family of four £101 return. However, as a single passenger the cheapest restrictive ticket I can get for this service is £131 which involves returning on an off peak service on a specified date. An open return going out on the 0514 is £300+. I understand that the train operating companies are entitled to promote special offers for limited periods of time but personally I find this quite discriminatory. How can it be right that 4 passengers can travel for less cost than a single person. Surely there must be some form of legislation to prevent this?

It's actually a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children.

I agree that it's a joke for Virgin to scrap the Railcard easement (to which I say, fair enough) and then run offers such as these.

The 04:48 from Holyhead (05:41 from Bangor), 07:00 from Manchester and similar peak time trains are hardly quiet. They are close to standing room only by the time they reach Euston. To fill these trains with families bringing along noisy young children (even if just one such family takes the offer up per train) is a nuisance when almost every other passenger is on a business trip or commute and wants peace and quiet.

It's hardly a case of "if we let them try our peak time service, families will be impressed and be tempted to pay full fare next time", as full fare means, in the case of Manchester to London, £700 return (versus £90 return with the offer price).

Families don't need to arrive in London in the morning peak and leave during the afternoon peak. Off-peak travel is fine, and competitively priced when a Family Railcard is used.

In any case, the offer isn't just discriminatory against business travellers. It is also discriminatory against single parent families (1 adult and 1 child costs the same as 2 adults and 4 children) and, even more notably, families with children above the age of 15. Most families don't suddenly disband when the eldest child turns 16, but with Virgin's "family" offer, a family of two adults, one sixteen year old and one twelve year old travelling from Manchester to London must pay £420 return (whereas if the 16 year old was 15, the price would be £90 return).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I don't think Virgin care about sticking two fingers up at their cash-cow peak fare passengers - they did something similar for years with their easement allowing Railcard-discounted Off-Peak tickets to be used on any train.

If I needed to arrive in London from Bangor before 9am, I would stick two fingers up to Virgin Trains by travelling to London the evening before and staying overnight in a hotel.

Unless you are able to travel on the last direct Virgin Trains service of the day (Bangor 14:25 to London 17:39), however, you will need to purchase separate tickets for the Bangor to Chester and Chester to London legs of the journeys, because Arriva Trains Wales are even worse than Virgin Trains in setting fares. For example:

Bangor 18:09 to Chester 19:11 [ATW - no first class accommodation]
Chester 19:35 to London 21:43 [VT]

Through Advance fare (determined by ATW) is £38 standard class / £83 first class.

Bangor to Chester Advance fare (set by ATW) is £9 (standard class only service).

Chester to London Advance fare (set by VT) is £16 standard class / £43 first class.

Arriva have the cheek to attempt to charge an additional £30+ for booking a through fare, even though they don't offer any first class accommodation on their own services (except one train in each direction between Holyhead and Cardiff).
 
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Clip

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It's actually a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children.

I agree that it's a joke for Virgin to scrap the Railcard easement (to which I say, fair enough) and then run offers such as these.

The 04:48 from Holyhead (05:41 from Bangor), 07:00 from Manchester and similar peak time trains are hardly quiet. They are close to standing room only by the time they reach Euston. To fill these trains with families bringing along noisy young children (even if just one such family takes the offer up per train) is a nuisance when almost every other passenger is on a business trip or commute and wants peace and quiet.

It's hardly a case of "if we let them try our peak time service, families will be impressed and be tempted to pay full fare next time", as full fare means, in the case of Manchester to London, £700 return (versus £90 return with the offer price).

Or it could be a case of ,w ell its the summer holidays and we know from many many years of experience in collecting the relevant data that our trains will be quieter in this period so we can fill them with people who will now love the Virgin brand even more.

Families don't need to arrive in London in the morning peak and leave during the afternoon peak. Off-peak travel is fine, and competitively priced when a Family Railcard is used.

Thats not true either, for many years when I was a child we would always go to London in the mornign peak so we could have a full day out and see as much as we could, we never returned in the evening peak as we knew they would be chocka but we certainly travelled in the peak, as did lots of families who we would see and thats journies that only took 2 hours from the kent coast.

In any case, the offer isn't just discriminatory against business travellers..

You always tell us that business travellers are in first class so this wont bother them, mainly as they will be on their holidays

It is also discriminatory against single parent families (1 adult and 1 child costs the same as 2 adults and 4 children) and, even more notably, families with children above the age of 15. Most families don't suddenly disband when the eldest child turns 16, but with Virgin's "family" offer, a family of two adults, one sixteen year old and one twelve year old travelling from Manchester to London must pay £420 return (whereas if the 16 year old was 15, the price would be £90 return)

Its a promotional offer, deal with it for crying out loud.
 

AlterEgo

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The 04:48 from Holyhead (05:41 from Bangor), 07:00 from Manchester and similar peak time trains are hardly quiet. They are close to standing room only by the time they reach Euston. To fill these trains with families bringing along noisy young children (even if just one such family takes the offer up per train) is a nuisance when almost every other passenger is on a business trip or commute and wants peace and quiet.

To be fair, this offer runs in the summer holidays, when traditional business demand for travel totally dies away.
 

All Line Rover

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To be fair, this offer runs in the summer holidays, when traditional business demand for travel totally dies away.

It's been running since June. The peak time trains I have been using in recent weeks have not been noticeably quieter than usual, although at the same time, I have come across very few families.

The photographs on the offer page on the Virgin Trains website depict first class accommodation (only accessible at weekends on payment of a - now increased - weekend upgrade, which is not mentioned at all), which would imply that the marketing department believe the offer will be more popular at weekends. In which case, why not just restrict the offer to weekends? £90 return for a flexible ticket from Manchester to London for 2 adults and 4 children is still good value (the usual price would be £170 + £30 for a Family Railcard, or £330 if there is no time to purchase a Railcard).
 

sheff1

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Families don't need to arrive in London in the morning peak and leave during the afternoon peak. Off-peak travel is fine, and competitively priced when a Family Railcard is used.

How many families have you canvassed before coming to this conclusion ?
 

stanthedog

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I received this useless reply from Virgin customer services after querying why a family can travel cheaper than myself. I find this situation nothing more than a kick in the teeth by Virgin, considering that it is impossible for me to travel on this service using advance tickets and traveling back off-peak for no less that £131, 8 months ago I could do the same journey for £86.


"I understand your query regarding the price of the ticket.

As per your journey details, I have checked and confirm that its a Family ticket which is offered to our customer when travelling with their family, but these tickets are subject to availability. Hence, you don't get them often.

To check for more cheaper ticket on our website, you need to check for the alternate option which is below the price of the ticket. These tickets are released in limited stocks and at the time of booking you automatically get the next available ticket.

I hope this information was helpful.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused."
 

AlterEgo

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I received this useless reply from Virgin customer services after querying why a family can travel cheaper than myself. I find this situation nothing more than a kick in the teeth by Virgin, considering that it is impossible for me to travel on this service using advance tickets and traveling back off-peak for no less that £131, 8 months ago I could do the same journey for £86.


"I understand your query regarding the price of the ticket.

As per your journey details, I have checked and confirm that its a Family ticket which is offered to our customer when travelling with their family, but these tickets are subject to availability. Hence, you don't get them often.

To check for more cheaper ticket on our website, you need to check for the alternate option which is below the price of the ticket. These tickets are released in limited stocks and at the time of booking you automatically get the next available ticket.

I hope this information was helpful.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused."

What did you expect them to say?

They have a promotional product that you don't qualify for. Tough titty.
 

Master29

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It's actually a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children.

To fill these trains with families bringing along noisy young children (even if just one such family takes the offer up per train) is a nuisance when almost every other passenger is on a business trip or commute and wants peace and quiet.

Woe betide we offend the "business class". The reason rail exists in the UK according to some.
 

ys123

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I had a look at the Virgins website and there doesn't seem to be an end date, has this offer been extended for the foreseeable future?
 

Darandio

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Never noticed this thread before, thanks for digging it up.

Families don't need to arrive in London in the morning peak and leave during the afternoon peak. Off-peak travel is fine, and competitively priced when a Family Railcard is used.

Funnily enough, the majority of our days out 'back in the day' would have been on peak services, as already noted to make the most of a day out.

Not that it was on any reduced ticket, we would have travelled on my dad's free boxes. No doubt that would have cheesed you off as well.
 

All Line Rover

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I had a look at ... Virgins website and there doesn't seem to be an end date, has this offer been extended for the foreseeable future?

It certainly seems so.

When VTWC offered the Railcard easement, the absurdity of charging around £660 for two adult Anytime Return tickets, while charging £125 for Off-Peak Return tickets for two adults and one child with a family railcard (so, more accurately, £155), was often highlighted.

Now, however, VTWC have a similar pricing structure, with the benefit that there is no longer any need to incur the hassle or expense of purchasing a railcard, but the drawback that the outward journey is no longer flexible. Nonetheless, on Monday 6th February, two adults travelling on the 07:00 Manchester to London and requiring a flexible ticket to return on any train within 30 days, must pay around £560 (£224 Advance + £338 Anytime), but if they are able to travel with one child, the price drops to a mere £95. That's an 83% saving, compared to a 77% saving with the Railcard easement that was withdrawn due to "capacity constraints".

I pick up on the absurdity of this pricing structure because, when Virgin Trains is asked the question (through Twitter, or by a member of the media) e.g. "why do you charge over £1000 for a flexible return ticket for three adults from Manchester to London?", Virgin Trains doesn't usually respond "because we are rip-off merchants", but with the more reasoned argument "our peak time trains can be very busy, were we to offer cheaper fares people would be standing, therefore when combined with our fast journey times and regular services we believe our fares are set at a fair price". That doesn't stand up to scrutiny when Virgin Trains equally allows six seats to be occupied by a group of travellers paying a combined price of £95.
 
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ys123

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Nonetheless, on Monday 6th February, two adults travelling on the 07:00 Manchester to London and requiring a flexible ticket to return on any train within 30 days, must pay around £560 (£224 Advance + £338 Anytime), but if they are able to travel with one child, the price drops to a mere £95. That's an 83% saving, compared to a 77% saving with the Railcard easement that was withdrawn due to "capacity constraints".

0700 Manchester to London on Monday 20th February two adults is just £74 (compared to £224) I believe this is as a result of VTWC introducing cheap advance tickets on peak trains aswell (I read about this on railukforums). Although If they didn't care about time just about flexibility they could buy a London Midland anytime single from London to Stoke and anytime single Stoke to Manchester for a total of £73.80 per adult and a 3.5hr journey with a change at stoke (compared to £169 per adult and a 2hr 10min direct journey)
 
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stanthedog

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I'm so delighted that Virgin are extending this offer through January! I've just paid £133 for my return ticket from Bangor to London knowing a family of 6 can travel on the same services for £101.
 

Doctor Fegg

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I can understand why you are frustrated but they can price how they want. You also must find a F&F railcard along with others discriminatory too then as they are all cheaper than a single person travelling.

F&F is less discriminatory than it once was, now that the Two Together card is available. (The two cards' benefits don't quite align, of course.)

But I'd agree with OP that offers like this are pretty daft. I can legally "opt in" to this offer by buying a child ticket for Fegg Junior, aged seven months. Maybe I should rent him out?* He likes trains, as long as he can look out of the window and see the trees go by. He probably wouldn't do much for your productivity if you were hoping to work, though.

* no, I'm not serious
 

ys123

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F&F is less discriminatory than it once was, now that the Two Together card is available. (The two cards' benefits don't quite align, of course.)

But I'd agree with OP that offers like this are pretty daft. I can legally "opt in" to this offer by buying a child ticket for Fegg Junior, aged seven months. Maybe I should rent him out?* He likes trains, as long as he can look out of the window and see the trees go by. He probably wouldn't do much for your productivity if you were hoping to work, though.

* no, I'm not serious

They could easilt change the t&c's so that one child must be aged 5-15.
Before the 2 together railcard was introduced, opting in an under 5 child to count as the child on the railcard was the done thing...
 

Doctor Fegg

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They could easilt change the t&c's so that one child must be aged 5-15.

But they wouldn't - because the Mail hysteria would be counterproductive for Virgin.

"FAMILY BANNED FROM USING CHEAP RAIL TICKETS - BECAUSE THEIR BOY IS TOO YOUNG! We expose the Virgin scam" (contd. p94)
 

ys123

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But they wouldn't - because the Mail hysteria would be counterproductive for Virgin.

"FAMILY BANNED FROM USING CHEAP RAIL TICKETS - BECAUSE THEIR BOY IS TOO YOUNG! We expose the Virgin scam" (contd. p94)

Well they could've originally done it when they started the offer...
 
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