VTEC Super Off Peak 80%+ fare rise (SSH replaced by SSS)?

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ba97

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Hi folks,

First time poster, so flame away if I've missed something obvious in searching & reading the stickies!

I commute Newcastle to KX weekly, commonly down on a Tuesday morning and back Thursday night. I mix flying from Heathrow and the train on the return leg, and have historically had a baseline - the Super Off Peak single - on which to anchor my travel budget (eg. TFL strike not called off at last minute = can't get to Heathrow = buy a train ticket).

Having done this for 2 years now, spanning the franchise change, I've seen small increases to the ticket cost a couple of times from £63ish to the current £65.15 fare. However, SSH appears to come to an end in mid-May leaving only SSS at £120.90 which is a fairly significant 86% increase (and only 12% cheaper than an Anytime Day Single at £138)! This appear to be the case across the board for VTEC destination (having checked York, Edinburgh, Doncaster at least).

What's your collective wisdom? An intentional move by VTEC? Just forgetting to re-file Super Off Peak fares with a small increase? Do I have any recourse other than complaining to them (I think not)?

Thanks!
 
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cuccir

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When I search for a date in June (image attached) they are still appearing, so it may be an error on BR fares? Or they might be selling them until May 16th. It may be useful to contact VTEC to clarify.

This fare was technically only ever an online special offer, so they are within their rights to withdraw it, though if they do it would fit in with a pattern of Virgin withdrawing a number of cheaper fares/offers on the ECML over the last 18 months.
--
Edit
OK - I see what they're doing. If you hover over the ticket on dates after mid-May, it looks like the T&Cs of the ticket are being altered to match the West Coast 'online off-peak single' tickets. These tickets can only be purchased as part of a return journey, that is, with another ticket in the opposite direction.

They'll still be available as a pair (though this would cost the same as Super Off Peak Return) or in combination with an Advance fare one way.

Double Edit - I see others have spotted this!
 

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Tetchytyke

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The ticket has changed, and you can now only book it as part of a return journey. However, as cuccir points out, this was only ever a promotional fare only available through VTEC's website. The ticket gave you a 50% discount on the super off-peak single.

Interestingly, reservations also seem to be quota-controlled. When trying to book one for my partner it wouldn't let me reserve a seat "as the train may be full", but it would allow reservations for all other ticket types. Trying to get sense out of VTEC was the usual losing battle.

It's just another way that Beardy and Brian have enhanced the service since privatisation. British Airways are now routinely cheaper than VTEC on the London-Newcastle route, as well as being more convenient for where I'm heading in London, so I give them my custom instead.
 
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ba97

New Member
Joined
18 Apr 2016
Messages
4
When I search for a date in June (image attached) they are still appearing, so it may be an error on BR fares? Or they might be selling them until May 16th. It may be useful to contact VTEC to clarify.

This fare was technically only ever an online special offer, so they are within their rights to withdraw it, though if they do it would fit in with a pattern of Virgin withdrawing a number of cheaper fares/offers on the ECML over the last 18 months.
--
Edit
OK - I see what they're doing. If you hover over the ticket on dates after mid-May, it looks like the T&Cs of the ticket are being altered to match the West Coast 'online off-peak single' tickets. These tickets can only be purchased as part of a return journey, that is, with another ticket in the opposite direction.

They'll still be available as a pair (though this would cost the same as Super Off Peak Return) or in combination with an Advance fare one way.

Double Edit - I see others have spotted this!

Yeah, I commonly just look journey-by-journey and never book returns (even as a combination of two singles) so that's what was confusing me. Oh well, I always take the train down on the mornings (the 0600 NCL-LHR flight n the summer timetable is a little too early for me) so this just makes it marginally more complicated to book.

Thanks all!
 

westv

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A weekly commute by train or plane? It's another world. :D
 

30907

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It's the North East - where 25 years ago it was common for people (usually men) to work away down south. Don't think flying would have been an option for most, though.
 

Haywain

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The ticket has changed, and you can now only book it as part of a return journey. However, as cuccir points out, this was only ever a promotional fare only available through VTEC's website. The ticket gave you a 50% discount on the super off-peak single.

Interestingly, reservations also seem to be quota-controlled. When trying to book one for my partner it wouldn't let me reserve a seat "as the train may be full", but it would allow reservations for all other ticket types. Trying to get sense out of VTEC was the usual losing battle.

It's just another way that Beardy and Brian have enhanced the service since privatisation. British Airways are now routinely cheaper than VTEC on the London-Newcastle route, as well as being more convenient for where I'm heading in London, so I give them my custom instead.
The ticket type was only intended to be sold as part of a return journey from its introduction, but technical problems prevented this. What has happened is that the technical problems have been resolved. I doubt any relevant in VTEC has been aware of any quota problems for seat reservations until now.
 

Tetchytyke

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I doubt any relevant in VTEC has been aware of any quota problems for seat reservations until now.

I doubt they were aware, but the issue was getting them to care. The response from customer services was essentially "tough", presumably tweeting yet more pictures of Kings Cross lounge was more important than fixing the problem.
 

cuccir

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Is there any time limit on when the other half of the journey has to be? Once the tickets with these T&Cs are in place, when one needed to make a flexible one way journey from Newcastle to London, with no plans to return by train, I suppose the best option might well be to buy one these tickets with a £17 Advance fare for some date at random in the future...?
 

Romilly

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I doubt they were aware, but the issue was getting them to care. The response from customer services was essentially "tough", presumably tweeting yet more pictures of Kings Cross lounge was more important than fixing the problem.

I wonder whether the VTEC journey planner has a wider problem with being able to detect availability for reservations: for example, it does not seem to be able to identify availability for reservations for Advances on Scotrail services where, rather than being given a specific seat in a specific coach, one is meant to be given a "Coach *** Seat ***" style of counted-place reservation - these have always been occasions where the Scotrail journey planner has been able to sell me the required ticket moments later.
 
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