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Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by csilke, 20 Aug 2015.
Haven't seen this mentioned, from http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/railcard-discount/
Indeed, just announced on my Train that after 6th September you can no longer use railcard discounted off peak tickets on Peak Time services due to other TOCs complaining.
There may be something in that, but I'm not sure I would trust an on train announcement as knowing the truth of the reasoning behind such a decision.
If the decison was reached at the behest of other operators, presumably Virgin West Coast will increase Advance quotas in the peaks so they don't lose out. Unlike XC (for example) they have a lot of flexibility in this area.
I'm impressed it lasted this long to be honest. Wouldn't surprise me if it was VTEC complaining
I wonder will it be replaced with anything? The "peak time" trains are already quite quiet whereas "off peak" trains are heaving. Perhaps some more Advances on "peak" trains?
'peak morning' virgin trains from MKC northbound are largely empty, I doubt they'll be increasing the advance quota on them
A passenger with an Advance ticket brings in more revenue than an empty seat.
Though if that passenger would otherwise have purchased an Anytime, they lose. Therein lies the difficulty.
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That said, a lot of young professionals are doing business travel on Off Peaks with Railcard, I know I did. I wonder how much revenues will rise when this stops? Though they will of course still be able to discount the Anytimes.
Things are a lot more complicated than that in the world of yield management and revenue maximisation!
As Neil says, a passenger who is willing to pay for a higher priced ticket in order to travel at a certain time, is a valuable revenue stream for a TOC. Put another but still pretty simplistic way, a peak train carrying 100 people paying an average of £200 each earns you £20k. If lots of lovely cheap Advance tickets and off peak walk up fares were made available, which would bring the average yield down to £40, then the train needs to carry 500 people to bring in the same amount of money.
An empty seat might actually have a value tot he TOC, as a quieter train with plenty of room to work and relax might help passengers to decide that it's worth paying more money to travel. A full train may be an incentive to seek alternative transport options.
Oh, I don't doubt that in the slightest. However, if we accept at face value that the point of Peak v Off-Peak is to encourage leisure travel onto quieter services, it is a bit of a non-sequitur that the first 'off-peak train' is often busier than the last 'peak' train. That suggests, to me at least, that there is unmet demand. One way to test this would be to make a limited number of slightly cheaper AP tickets available on shoulder-peak services, rather a than stack-em high, sell-em cheap approach.
Does anyone know the history of this easement...why was it introduced and was it brought in by Virgin?
Very disappointed it's going, it'll now be cheaper for me to go up the night before and stay in a hotel the odd occasion I have to work up in Brum
I did hear some VT staff talking about it on my train into work about a week ago but didn't see anything official at the time so thought it was just gossip... turns out it's true though!
I imagine it will push people onto already crowded London Midland services, not only because they offer cheaper fares but also because their off peak tickets aren't as restrictive.
Except it clearly isn't. The point of yield management (of which peak vs. off-peak is a form, albeit a very crude form) is to maximise income from limited assets.
LM, for instance, is often busier on a Saturday afternoon than some of the faster 12-car peak trains are. Crikey, sometimes even the slower ones; the 1751 EUS-NMP has about one person per bay in the front coach on a weekday.
I don't think that's the reason behind such pricing any more. I think it was under BR, when the fares structure wasn't as defined as now, and BR| wanted to offer reduced prices to get people the busier trains and on to quieter ones. There was a large element of spreading demand then.
These days it;s all about extracting as much revenue as possible, subject to the various restrictions on the overall increase to the regulated fares basket. One of the results is that TOC's have to be a lot smarter about what fares they increase and by how much. It seems to be a very complicated science these days.
In fairness to BR, the technology wasn't available then to analyse revenue streams and forecast what would happen when fares were tweaked in different ways. As far as VTWC is concerned, it could be as simple as a computer program indicated that allowing railcard holders tot ravel on any train would lead to an increase in revenue when they introduced it. Now, the computer could be saying that withdrawing it would lead to an increase.
Oh, I know it isn't but that is the line that keeps getting repeated.
My perception is that is was introduced by Virgin at the time the ex-BR peak restrictions were extended, around 2000, to avoid pricing everybody off the trains.
They were also deep into the disruption of the WCRM project which depressed loadings for years until they could increase frequency and run at 125mph.
Until quite recently, the concession applied to connecting services too, but it was restricted to VT trains only also to appease the other TOCs (Northern, LM, ATW).
I don't really see what other TOCs have to do with the removal of the concession, it only applied to VTWC trains.
I will miss travelling early from Chester and turning up at Liverpool St even before the GA 0930 peak restriction expired!
I think once it was evident that VTEC was not introducing the concession, its days were numbered.
There had been rumours that it would be ended if the 2012 15-year franchise had been let, even if VT had won.
I'm not at all sure that other TOC's have had anythign to do with the decision. I feel that it's more likely to be a purely commercial decision based on forecasts and because of the changed market conditions that probably apply now compared to when it was brought in.
I'm quite sure that VTWC are well aware of the young professional using their railcards to travel on peak business trains at a much reduced price!
Of course there is nothing to stop Virgin adjusting / removing off peak restrictions on North bound empty morning trains but they are unlikely to want reduced Anytime "duress" sales.
Perhaps DfT insisted upon it during some aspect of the direct award negotiation? Although it has no direct effect on other TOCs, it is always possible they don't want the hassle of dealing with people turning up in the peak using discounted off-peak tickets bought online...
I would never discount the idea of DfT interference!
Hmm but still valid to/from London & MKC?
Virgin's railcard easement has never been valid to/from Milton Keynes and London.
Nor I. Indeed I would sort-of expect them not to like it, because (a) it costs them money (though I imagine brings long-term goodwill to the Virgin Group rather than to the railway itself), and (b) it is a non-standard element in what is meant to be a standardised ticketing system.
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The exclusion means the easement doesn't apply EUS-MKC, not that the withdrawal of it doesn't. FWIW, though, in the evening peak some judicious splitting can make sense as MKC doesn't have northbound evening restrictions. However many trains are pick up only so if you're splitting tickets you may have to also split your journey, and there is of course a much reduced service.
 This is one of those things where, it could be said, your mileage may vary, because there is no written rule on it anywhere.
I think you've got it the wrong way round, I understand it to have never been permitted to use this easement when boarding a southbound VT at Milton Keynes.
No doubt if this topic is discussed on another forum a certain 'journalist' will certainly claim that is true so people still feel warm and fuzzy towards Virgin.
I thought the point of this easement had nothing to do with yield management but was related to load management where peak trains are often half empty and the first post-peak trains are packed, so the load was evened out slightly. It will be interesting to see how full the first London post-peak arrivals are when this change is implemented.
I stand corrected as I didn't read it that way
Possibly not a lot different (and slightly fairer to everyone) if they do plug the gap with some better priced Advances.
So... that's the shoulder trains even more packed and the peak trains even emptier from next month then?:roll: