Why is there an obnoxious fare difference London-Glasgow at 08:30 vs. 09:30?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Jaden_emerald, 12 Apr 2019.

  1. Jaden_emerald

    Jaden_emerald Member

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    About to buy a ticket London-Glasgow, with 08:30 being the appropriate service for me. I could also make it with the 09:30 one, but barely so.

    However, the 08:30 train costs 143 pounds whereas the 09:30 one only costs 47.

    Could anyone please explain the reason for this huge price difference for just one hour?

    Thanks in advance
     
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  3. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Both of these tickets are Advance tickets. Advance tickets are priced in "tiers", and it is simply that in this case a much cheaper tier of Advance is available on the later train. The train companies claim Advances exist to fill seats on less busy services, but in reality they are (on the companies that manage them properly) a revenue management tool, just in the same way that flights cost different amounts depending on what time, and which day of the week, they depart.

    Therefore the cost of the fare is designed to maximise the amount of revenue the train company gets, in view of what each potential passenger is willing to pay. Clearly Virgin hope that the likes of business travellers are willing to pay £143 if arrival into Glagow by 13:00 is crucial for them (say, for an afternoon meeting), but accept that leisure travellers might not be willing to pay so much, and so also offer a service for £47. In this way they are maximising the amount of revenue they get from each kind of passenger.

    In legal terms, there is no obligation on any train company to offer Advance tickets and so I guess we can be happy they decide nevertheless to offer them. Otherwise you'd be stuck paying £186.50 for the 08:30 and £146.00 for the 09:30, as that's the cost of the flexible through fare for each service. This price differential in terms of the cost of the flexible fare (which is even more marked if making a return journey, with the Anytime fare costing £373.00 return vs £147.00 for the Off-Peak) is no doubt an influencing factor in Virgin's decision about what tier of Advance tickets they release on a particular train.

    You haven't specified the date you are travelling, but you may find that it is cheaper to obtain a combination of tickets as opposed to one through ticket. For example, it might cost less to get one ticket from London to Preston and another from Preston to Glasgow than to get one through ticket from London to Glasgow - even if you stay on the same train. There are websites that will work this out for you and sell you the combination, such as www.trainsplit.com.
     
    Last edited: 12 Apr 2019
  4. Jaden_emerald

    Jaden_emerald Member

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    I know of Trainsplit, but it'll save me zero in my case.

    One question: is the 08:30 service likely to be much more crowded? If so, could that be one reason?
     
  5. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Well, in that case your choice is to take the earlier service and pay more, or to risk the later service and pay less!

    If anything, the cost of fares on this route is remarkably reasonable given the improvements in speed and frequency since BR days. The cheapest Advance Single at privatisation was £28.50 - £53.80 in today's money. But I highly doubt that would have been available on an 08:30 departure. If you had to plump for the Anytime Single, as I might expect you would have had to do, that would have set you back £68.00 - £128.42 in today's money. So I think it is certainly not beyond the bounds of reasonableness to charge £143 for that journey - bearing in mind this is a 400+ mile, 4.5 hour journey - if time is of the essence. A fare of £47 strikes me as rather good value for money, really.

    But even if the fare were unreasonable - it is still lower than the fare they are permitted to charge, so I don't see that we can exactly complain at Virgin not offering to sacrifice revenue.

    Have you considered flying as an alternative? Depending on your exact origin and destination points in London and Glasgow respectively, the timings may be similar and it may be cheaper.
     
  6. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Not necessarily, in part because of the difference in price. If the £47 tickets were available for both trains then the 08:30 would be much busier but the prices are at least in part a way of encouraging passengers to choose the later train.
     
  7. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    Still very poor value for money, when one can fly from Gatwick to Glasgow for £30 on easyJet!
     
  8. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

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    It depends where you are going from and to. £8.50 for a London - Gatwick single + £8 for the Bus to Glasgow city centre
     
  9. BluePenguin

    BluePenguin On Moderation

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    A cheaper alternative is to buy a LNWR single/return to Crewe and an advance to Glasgow. Do the same in reverse if you are returning.

    Euston - Crewe as cheap as £9 advance on 07:46 service

    Crewe - Glasgow as cheap as £20 advance

    It is slower although can be the savings can be worth it.
     
  10. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    But...factor in extras such as travel to and from airports, and the fact that only a few tickets will generally be available at that price, and there's often not much in it.

    I live very close to Edinburgh Airport, so I'll often check both plane and train if I'm travelling to London, and the prices can vary enormously depending on time of year, day of week, and how far ahead I'm booking.
     
  11. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    We don't know the date of the journey, so it's not possible to give the best advice.

    However the morning flight to Glasgow has sold out already for Monday, the fare for Sunday is £138.22 and for Tuesday it's £70.55. These don't include costs of getting to/from each airport.
     
  12. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    I picked a random date in May (8th I believe) and saw that the fare was £29.22, on the 0855 flight to Glasgow.
     
  13. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    The train fare on the 0830 is £66 (as shown on Virgin Trains website), or the journey can be made for £57 through Trainsplit on the 8th of May, so this isn't a correct comparison with the fares quoted by @Jaden_emerald.

    Unless @Jaden_emerald provides the date of travel, we are not able to give appropriate advice.
     
  14. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Perhaps, but it is not an outright win for the plane.

    Most people would need to get up substantially earlier in order to catch an 08:55 flight as opposed to an 08:30 train - bearing in mind it is generally advisable to arrive at the airport at least 60-90 minutes beforehand to allow for queues (especially at "peak" <D times), and the airport is further from the centre of London than Euston, and thus likely to be a longer journey to get to for the OP.

    There are also likely greater costs to get to the flight than to get to somewhere like Euston - a single to Luton Airport is £18.30 or to Gatwick Airport on the Gatwick Express it's £19.80 on Oyster/contactless. Cheaper and slower options are available but then you are extending the journey time such as to make it uncompetitive with the train.

    It's clear that there is stiff competition between the train and the plane on this route so, generally speaking, I don't think it is fair to say that the train is "too" expensive. Cheap? No, £143 isn't cheap, but it might still represent good value depending on the needs of the passenger.
     
  15. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    A lot depends on how the OP plans to do the return journey.
    Many walk-on return fares are only £1 dearer than the single.
    Doesn't apply to Advances of course.
    I would always look at the off-peak return fare before finalising a purchase (£147 Euston-Glasgow).
     
  16. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    That would enable a reasonable return fare valid on every train from 0540 onwards.

    EDIT: Darn - that's the wrong direction. It does allow the 0830, though.
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2019
  17. Surreytraveller

    Surreytraveller Established Member

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    I went up to Glasgow from Euston on the 07.30 once, and had the carriage to myself until Carlisle
     

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