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All across the Great Western territory => Fare's Fair => Topic started by: SusanW on November 01, 2007, 01:24:43 pm



Title: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: SusanW on November 01, 2007, 01:24:43 pm
Hi there,

I have recently moved from Oxford to Swindon and still commute into London Paddington most days. From Oxford, the journey takes roughly an hour, usually with two stops and generally fairly unrealiable. From Swindon, the journey takes roughly an hour, usually with two stops and gerenally fairly unrealiable. What is the difference you may ask? Well, a Swindon to London monthly season ticket costs nearly twice as much (^560 with 5% discount) as from Oxford (^330 with 5% discount)!

Why is there this enormous discrepancy in fares? I realise that the journey is further in miles, and would even be prepared to pay, perhaps ^100 more per month, for this luxury of speedy travel (not). But nearly twice as much? It is making me question the sanity of having a London-based job which I love.

I have complained to FGW but their response was that the the fares are set by Network Rail and its nothing to do with them - is this true? Does anyone know why the fares are so much higher or tried to find out?

I would love to hear from anyone who has thought of a way round them. For about ^30 less a month you can get separate season tickets to and from didcot parkway but it's not that much difference. I have heard that some people drive from Swindon to Didcot and get the train there rather than paying the higher fare price, but seeing as it is a good hours drive to Didcot this can't be a solution for regular commuters.

Any help would be much appreciated!

Susan


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Tickets Please on November 01, 2007, 03:34:39 pm
you can do that but just make sure that the train you get on at Swindon calls at Didcot Parkway (most do) as the National Conditions of Carriage stipulate that if you use two season tickets for one journey the train MUST call at the station where the two season tickets 'seperate'

If you use one season ticket and one ticket then there is no requirement but two seasons or two tickets for the same journey (with a few exceptions) the train must.

Regards



Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: grahame on November 01, 2007, 03:51:37 pm
I understand that ticket prices from Chippenham / Swindon to London are the most expensive  anywhere in Europe on a main line, mile for mile on a regular train. The are "long distance" fares which were allowed to rise to a very much higher level per mile than more local ("commuter") fares many years ago, especially on services that were very fast and very high  quality compared to what was general at the time.   So that's really "when the HSTs were brought in".     As a result, it's often much cheaper to buy two tickets for two parts of the journey which you are allowed to do provided that the trains you use stop at the swap over point.  So if you buy separate Swindon - Didcot and Didcot-Paddington, you can't use a train that goes nonestop from Reading to Swindon.

FGW are right that these fares are controlled - i.e. not set by them.  They could (if they wanted to boost traffic) offer special fares at a lower rate and indeed they do so in off peak times with a bewildering array of conditions designed to stop them being useful to peak hour commuters.  But I thing their feeling is "why should we reduce fares on that service in the peak when the train is full anyway - it's more money to pay for our franchise and shareholders" and in a commercial world they're right.



Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: devon_metro on November 01, 2007, 04:27:20 pm
1 Hour @ ^560

Think of the poor sods in Exeter:

2 hours @ ^1994.20


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: vacman on November 01, 2007, 06:20:42 pm
Yet in the far west season tickets are a bargain Penzance to truro (40 mins) ^25 for 7 days, Penzance-Plymouth (2 hours) ^45 for 7 days Truro-Falmouth ^11.70 for 7 days!


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Jim on November 01, 2007, 06:59:13 pm
Yet in the far west season tickets are a bargain Penzance to truro (40 mins) ^25 for 7 days, Penzance-Plymouth (2 hours) ^45 for 7 days Truro-Falmouth ^11.70 for 7 days!

Same with lines like Severn Beach.

In Cornwall though, they are brilliant prices


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: simonw on November 01, 2007, 08:09:57 pm
I think you might find that BPW to Reading is the most expensive at over ^570 per month for 1 hour travel!

This is the same price as BTM to Reading which is 1 hour 20 minutes!

I believe that train prices should be less that than cost of driving, and driving 150 miles for 20 days, will probably cost  approximately ^450 (AA assumes cost of driving at 15p per mile over the life of the car (http://www.theaa.com/allaboutcars/advice/advice_rcosts_diesel_table.jsp)).

If Network Rail /FGW use the argument that they are using price to control demand, it certainly is not working!


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: John R on November 01, 2007, 08:32:52 pm
The argument measuring cost per hour of travel is a bit spurious. I'm sure those who spend an hour crawling 20 miles each morning wouldn't complain if their journey time halved and their "cost per hour" accordingly doubled. Indeed, you might then argue that they should pay a bit more because their average speed has halved.

I don't believe Network Rail set any ticket prices. It has to be the TOC.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: martyjon on November 01, 2007, 09:20:45 pm
I don't believe Network Rail set any ticket prices. It has to be the TOC.

I too didn't think Network Rail had anything to do with the pricing of rail fares unless you consider the track access charges having a contributory factor in the level of fares charged.

I may be wrong but is it not a fact that certain fares are regulated and are set by the Rail Regulator, perhaps the experts can provide a post on this thread to outline generally what fares are regulated and what fares are not.

Where two operators run between two stations one of them, the prime operator, sets fares but the second operator can undercut the prime operators fares by offering fares on XYZ services only.

A case of this was the fares between major stations in South Wales, ATW sets the fares but FGW came in with lower fares available on FGW services only. This prompted, if I recall a price war, with ATW undercutting the FGW fares by reducing the fares they (ATW) set.

Again anyone elaborate on this.

Rail fares have come alongway in my lifetime, I can remember the days when ordinary rail fares were set by rate per mile whether the journey was from Penzance to Truro, Reading to Paddington or Inverness to Invergordon. There were, I think, only Singles, Period Returns, Day Returns and Workmans / Cheap Day / Half Day Returns.

My grandfather used to work as a superintendant crane driver at the Royal Edward Docks, Avonmouth and very often he would get a pass to take me and my brother to the docks on a Sunday morning when he was on duty and he would buy a Workmans Return for himself and Child Cheap Day Returns for my brother and myself. Yes those WERE the days when the Severn Beach line was double track all the way to Hallen Marsh Junction, the line carried on to Severn Beach with a some services continuing to Pilning and Bristol via the circular route and also via Henbury from Hallen Marsh Junction to Bristol which was double track too.

Enough reminiscing.   


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Timmer on November 01, 2007, 09:24:07 pm
I don't believe Network Rail set any ticket prices. It has to be the TOC.
First I've ever heard about Network Rail or Railtrack that went before setting fairs. Thought that was the job of the TOCs/Dft previously the SRA in association with ORR who govern how much Network Rail can charge the TOCs for running on their tracks.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: vacman on November 01, 2007, 11:46:23 pm
I don't believe Network Rail set any ticket prices. It has to be the TOC.
First I've ever heard about Network Rail or Railtrack that went before setting fairs. Thought that was the job of the TOCs/Dft previously the SRA in association with ORR who govern how much Network Rail can charge the TOCs for running on their tracks.
Certain fares are regulated by the ORR, I believe these fares to be Std day singles/returns and Standard open singles/returns and 7 day seasons, although i'm not 100% sure on which ticket types are regulated.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Mookiemoo on November 02, 2007, 10:11:05 am
Then you get the silly rule on the cotswold line that caused me to have a discussion with the guard this morning.

I get a WOS - OXF and then OXF - PAD season ticket. Works out about ^150 cheaper.

Except............Apparently this is only allowed if you have a tube pass on the back of the london end.  But I dont need one so I dont.

Ridiculous


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: vacman on November 02, 2007, 10:55:56 am
The guard was talking tripe! you can have a split season ticket as long as the train stops at Oxford!


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Mookiemoo on November 02, 2007, 12:11:35 pm
Interesting - cos the train manager (I should say not guard) is one of the best known on the cotswolds line and has been around for years.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: vacman on November 02, 2007, 12:29:16 pm
Interesting - cos the train manager (I should say not guard) is one of the best known on the cotswolds line and has been around for years.
I'm in that line of work myself, and i'm sure he's wrong, if there is a season avilable from Oxford to Paddington then you are allowed to buy one! Will look in my Avantix machine next time i'm at work and let you know the cheapest option for you.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Mookiemoo on November 02, 2007, 12:33:38 pm
I spent a long journey home playing about on national rail - taking all the stops between WOS and PAD and working out a variety of breaks at stations.

Breaking the ticket at oxford was the cheapest by far. But only for first class.  Standard doesnt get the same reduction if they break the ticket.

But if there is something i've missed I'd appreicate it.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Tickets Please on November 02, 2007, 06:52:30 pm
the guard is wrong - two season tickets are valid as long as the train calls where they split and obviously they do at oxford.

who is this super guard you refer to ? does he walk with a limp on the count of his false leg by any chance ?



Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Mookiemoo on November 02, 2007, 07:33:40 pm
the guard is wrong - two season tickets are valid as long as the train calls where they split and obviously they do at oxford.

who is this super guard you refer to ? does he walk with a limp on the count of his false leg by any chance ?



didnt say he was a super guard - just that he's well known on the line I use on the morning trains and has been doing it years (and most of the passengers like him).  I would have thought he knew the rules.

And if anyone asked if his name began with a Z and ended in Q, I could not possibly comment.

Edit by Graham - it does NOT start in a Z and end in a Q, of course.  There are times when we will mention a name - a manager to contact, an authority who has made a statement - but rarely specific operational staff.  And if it's improper to name them, it's certainly improper to hint at their name!


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: vacman on November 02, 2007, 10:48:06 pm
the guard is wrong - two season tickets are valid as long as the train calls where they split and obviously they do at oxford.

who is this super guard you refer to ? does he walk with a limp on the count of his false leg by any chance ?



didnt say he was a super guard - just that he's well known on the line I use on the morning trains and has been doing it years (and most of the passengers like him).  I would have thought he knew the rules.

And if anyone asked if his name began with a Z and ended in Q, I could not possibly comment.
Trust me, plenty of my colleagues who have been on the railway since Brunel built the GW don't have a clue about tickets!
It tends to be the younger jobsworths like me that know the system inside out!  ;)


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Tickets Please on November 03, 2007, 11:14:56 am
yes well I know exactally who you are refering to. I would get a copy of the National Conditions of Carriage and point him to condition 19 which states:

19. Using a combination of tickets
You may use two or more tickets for one journey as long as together they cover
the entire journey and one of the following applies:
(a) they are both Zonal Tickets (unless special conditions prohibit their use);
(b) the train you are in calls at the station where you change from one ticket to
another; or
(c) one of the tickets is a Season Ticket (which for this purpose does not include Season
Tickets or travel passes issued on behalf of a passenger transport executive or
local authority) or a leisure travel pass, and the other ticket(s) is/are not.

And he should know better, he works those trains enough.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Tim on November 21, 2007, 04:51:56 pm
The danger of working our fares on a per hour basis that when your train is delayed your journey becomes better value!

fares in teh former Network SouthEast area which includes Didcot, Oxford and even Worcester, but not bristol, or Swindon are generally cheaper.  This was a policy decision by BR.  The crazy thing about fares is the fares set today are still based on those set by BR decades ago.  For example, BR charged higher fares on teh ECMl than teh WCML because it ran faster and newer trains.  Now we have faster and new trains on teh WCML but the price defferential still exists.  The current fares are neither the fairest for the passenger nor, I belive the most profitable for the companies.

All fares need to be scrapped and worked out from scratch on a per mile basis with upward adjustment for fast and frequent services and downward adjustments for poorer services.  higher fares could also be charged to control overcrowding but only on the condition that the extra revenue generated is ring fenced for alleviating teh overcrowding.


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: Nitrox on December 30, 2007, 07:35:07 pm
I would love to hear from anyone who has thought of a way round them. For about ^30 less a month you can get separate season tickets to and from didcot parkway but it's not that much difference. I have heard that some people drive from Swindon to Didcot and get the train there rather than paying the higher fare price, but seeing as it is a good hours drive to Didcot this can't be a solution for regular commuters.

I concur ! I too will be moving to Swindon in the Spring (from Newbury) and have been doing a fair bit of research in to the various commuting options available to London.  I considered the driving to Didcot thing but having tried this journey the other night decided that this was not an option for me (that B4507 is an awful road to drive on and not a drive I want to face first thing in the morning nor last thing at night)  It took at least 25 minutes just to get to Wantage and I couldn't be bothered to go any further having made my mind up about that particular journey already !

Although I don't need to go to London every day of the working week, I would certainly need to go at least 2 days, sometimes 3 days per week.  They are not set days each week.  FGW do not offer Day Return's from Swindon to London, for what reason I don't know (in order to maximise revenue I assume ?); but I would be interested to know what the reason is if anyone knows ?  What has distance got to do with anything ?

So we are faced with the option of a Standard Open Return costing ^98.00 (which IMHO is just simply outrageous) and, erm, that's it. ^98.00. Lovely.

How obtuse is it, however, that a Day Return between Swindon and Didcot costs ^30.00 and a Day Return from Didcot to London costs ^42.20.  A combined saving of ^25.80.  I am aware of the 'train has to stop at Didcot' for this to be valid but with the exception of about 2 services, all trains from Swindon-London-Swindon call at Didcot.  I don't understand how they can justify charging ^98.00 when this is a valid alternative ?

I have also priced the weekly and monthly season ticket options and have come to the conclusion that based on the number of times I will travel it is probably just about more cost efficient to buy a monthly season ticket but was left totally confused having called the FGW Telesales number to clarify the costs etc.  Having already been in possession of a monthly season ticket on the Newbury to London route, I am aware that, on renewal, FGW give a 5% discount.  Now, I must confess, I am not entirely certain why this is so, I have a feeling it has something to do with FGW's punctuality performance, but I stand to be corrected.  When I asked about the renewal discount, the agent said that this would be down to the discretion of the person selling me the ticket at the tme ??! WTF ?  When I asked why the discounts were given, there was a stony silence.  Is this some unwritten rule that, although FGW have to adhere to it they do not make a point of acknowledging it ?  So I said to the agent, did it depend on the tone of my voice, the colour of my socks or something but again she reiterated her point about it being down to the discretion of the ticket agent at the time.  Either they do give a discount or they b****y don't !!  Why is this all shrouded in FGW mystery ?



Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: vacman on December 30, 2007, 10:08:12 pm
I would love to hear from anyone who has thought of a way round them. For about ^30 less a month you can get separate season tickets to and from didcot parkway but it's not that much difference. I have heard that some people drive from Swindon to Didcot and get the train there rather than paying the higher fare price, but seeing as it is a good hours drive to Didcot this can't be a solution for regular commuters.

I concur ! I too will be moving to Swindon in the Spring (from Newbury) and have been doing a fair bit of research in to the various commuting options available to London.  I considered the driving to Didcot thing but having tried this journey the other night decided that this was not an option for me (that B4507 is an awful road to drive on and not a drive I want to face first thing in the morning nor last thing at night)  It took at least 25 minutes just to get to Wantage and I couldn't be bothered to go any further having made my mind up about that particular journey already !

Although I don't need to go to London every day of the working week, I would certainly need to go at least 2 days, sometimes 3 days per week.  They are not set days each week.  FGW do not offer Day Return's from Swindon to London, for what reason I don't know (in order to maximise revenue I assume ?); but I would be interested to know what the reason is if anyone knows ?  What has distance got to do with anything ?

So we are faced with the option of a Standard Open Return costing ^98.00 (which IMHO is just simply outrageous) and, erm, that's it. ^98.00. Lovely.

How obtuse is it, however, that a Day Return between Swindon and Didcot costs ^30.00 and a Day Return from Didcot to London costs ^42.20.  A combined saving of ^25.80.  I am aware of the 'train has to stop at Didcot' for this to be valid but with the exception of about 2 services, all trains from Swindon-London-Swindon call at Didcot.  I don't understand how they can justify charging ^98.00 when this is a valid alternative ?

I have also priced the weekly and monthly season ticket options and have come to the conclusion that based on the number of times I will travel it is probably just about more cost efficient to buy a monthly season ticket but was left totally confused having called the FGW Telesales number to clarify the costs etc.  Having already been in possession of a monthly season ticket on the Newbury to London route, I am aware that, on renewal, FGW give a 5% discount.  Now, I must confess, I am not entirely certain why this is so, I have a feeling it has something to do with FGW's punctuality performance, but I stand to be corrected.  When I asked about the renewal discount, the agent said that this would be down to the discretion of the person selling me the ticket at the tme ??! WTF ?  When I asked why the discounts were given, there was a stony silence.  Is this some unwritten rule that, although FGW have to adhere to it they do not make a point of acknowledging it ?  So I said to the agent, did it depend on the tone of my voice, the colour of my socks or something but again she reiterated her point about it being down to the discretion of the ticket agent at the time.  Either they do give a discount or they b****y don't !!  Why is this all shrouded in FGW mystery ?


The 5% discount is triggered by the monthly performance of the TOC who sets the fare, if the PPM (I think this stands for Public Performance Measure) is lower than the government's target for that period then everyone in the effected area gets the discount when they renew their season, it's not down to the disgression of the individual ticket seller! Was it someone in India that you spoke to by any chance??  ;)


Title: Re: Unfair pricing system for Swindon commuters
Post by: SusanW on January 31, 2008, 04:56:48 pm
Thanks for everyone's head-scratching and comments.

Welcome to the world of Swindon commuting Nitrox. I am in exactly the same boat as you - tend to commute into London between 2 and 4 days a week and I buy a monthly season ticket.

You're right - it's impossible to drive to Didcot and continue the journey that way, although it might be cheaper.

I've recently written to Andrew Haines (FGW chief exec) to request a review of the fare discrepancies between Swindon and nearby stations such as Didcot - am waiting for some reply.

The 5% renewal is due to the poor punctuality of their trains - up until last week you got 5% or 10% depending on how bad they'd been (nearly always 5%) but now you actually get 10% or 20% - FGW finally agreed that they've been a pile of pants. The reason why there might be a query over your renewal is that although you're renewing a season ticket, you're not renewing it like for like, and FGW may well argue that that's not a straight renewal. I know that I lost my 5% the first time I renewed after moving from Oxford. 

Hope this helps! And yes, all the call centres are on the other side of the world...



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