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Author Topic: Why getting from Cardiff to Bristol is so expensive?  (Read 1069 times)
Timmer
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« on: July 20, 2019, 10:10:53 am »

From BBC
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-48635195
Quote
To the east and west of Cardiff, there are cities that are about 45 miles away.
So why does it cost 3,156 a year to travel to Bristol and 1,796 to go in the opposite direction to Swansea?
Following the M4 relief road's scrapping, ways are being explored to get cars off the motorway near Newport.
However, the end of Severn tolls and higher cost of tickets into England leave little incentive for commuters to get the train.
You can even get a first class ticket (2,692 a year) to Swansea cheaper than a standard to Bristol, according to the National Rail Enquiries website.
Continues...
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2019, 11:04:36 am »

This has of course its roots in Selective Pricing. Clearly someone in the past has decided that more people wanted to go from Cardiff to Bristol than Cardiff to Swansea, so a premium gets charged.

However...

There are a number of further factors at play, one of which is probably that GWR set the Cardiff to Bristol fares, and Transport for Wales set the Cardiff to Swansea fares. Leaving to one side the annual season ticket fares quoted, the normal return fares are as follows:

                      CDF-BRI   CDF-SWA
7 day season    78.90    44.90
Anytime           21.90   12.20
Off peak           13.90   11.80
It strikes me that these season and anytime fares have been set with the mindset that the alternative way of getting there includes paying Severn Bridge tolls. Now that those tolls have been abolished it might be a good time for GWR to revisit their fare structure to and from South Wale.
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froome
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2019, 12:34:43 pm »

Another factor is that Cardiff to Bristol Temple Meads services are smaller stopping services while Cardiff to Swansea services have much more capacity and are quicker. So you pay more for having a worse service.
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jamestheredengine
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2019, 01:57:43 pm »

There is the issue that these fares are set by two different operators (TfW to Swansea, GWR to Bristol). Although, having said that, TfW are quite capable of creating their own anomalies, e.g. Ebbw Vale Town and Chepstow both being 29 and a bit miles from Cardiff Central, but very different prices, despite both being set by TfW.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2019, 09:59:45 am »

Demand. Bristol is the "regional London".
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Day return to Infinity, please.
eightf48544
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2019, 11:25:38 am »

Demand. Bristol is the "regional London".

You've hit the nail on the head.

Are the railways "Public Transport" probably needing a large subsidy or a "Commercial Enterprise" for the operator but still  needing a possibly smaller subsidy?

We don't seem to be too sure, we seem to want Public Transport, at a reasonable price without having to pay a large subsidy.

Hence demand led fares for the Commercial Operator.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2019, 12:10:15 pm »

Demand. Bristol is the "regional London".

You've hit the nail on the head.

Are the railways "Public Transport" probably needing a large subsidy or a "Commercial Enterprise" for the operator but still  needing a possibly smaller subsidy?

We don't seem to be too sure, we seem to want Public Transport, at a reasonable price without having to pay a large subsidy.

Hence demand led fares for the Commercial Operator.

Bristol to London - 218 anytime, any permitted route, standard class return. 117 miles
(Can reduce to 61.40 with super off peak travel in both directions)
(Can reduce to 86.80 if you travel via Warminster and Salisbury, as low as 44.70 off peak)

Inverness to Aberdeen - 56.20 anytime, any permitted route, standard class return. 106 miles
(Can reduce to as low as 24.70 day return off peak)

Now - curiously - the infrastructure still needs to be provided whether you're looking at a route with a smaller rather than a larger number of passengers - and that would suggest to me that if each route were priced on the actual cost of providing it, London to Bristol should have the benefit of bulk and cost less per passenger that Aberdeen to Inverness.

P.S. Some other journeys away from London chosen 'at random' - not selected based on cost
Newcastle to Leeds - 100 miles - 89.00 anytime return.
Birmingham to Lancaster - 128 miles - 116 anytime return
Peterborough to Manchester - 137 miles - 109.90 anytime return



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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2019, 01:22:55 pm »

Now - curiously - the infrastructure still needs to be provided whether you're looking at a route with a smaller rather than a larger number of passengers - and that would suggest to me that if each route were priced on the actual cost of providing it, London to Bristol should have the benefit of bulk and cost less per passenger that Aberdeen to Inverness.
That would also be logical. I guess one is "cost logic" and the other is "demand logic". Like a last-minute flight costing more than one booked months in advance, although the fuel etc is identical. You could sometimes expect a last-minute flight should cost less, because if that seat isn't filled, the plane takes off with insufficient payload. But I was really thinking of the prestige factor. Not suggesting that Bristol is prestigious, but it functions as a de facto regional capital.

And the third logic is that popular routes need to generate the revenue to cover the costs of the less popular ones.
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Noggin
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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2019, 02:44:11 pm »

Don't know if was true, but I remember a story 10 to 15 years ago that as rail travel started to take off post-privatisation, a shift in mode-share was starting to affect the volume of traffic over the Severn Bridge. The DfT was going to be on the hook for any shortfall in revenue, so cut the number of services stopping in the morning peak at Severn Tunnel Junction to try and stem the tide. Perhaps at that point they also stuck the fares up? IIRC they also did something similar with the 1st class fares from Reading when it got to the point that enough people were paying the 100/month premium to get a seat that 1st ended up overcrowded.

FWIW Cardiff to Bristol (70km) at 19 for an anytime day return is not unreasonable compared with 25 for Reading to London Paddington (65km) and 9 for Bristol to Bath (20km), though if my sums are right, that's more or less the same price per KM as Antwerp to Brussels or Amsterdam to Rotterdam.

However, when you get to season tickets it is a very different story - Antwerp to Brussels (44km) is a very reasonable 1483,00 for 12 months, which goes down to an even more reasonable 445,00 after the employer pays their bit. Roughly the same distance is Chippenham, for which you will pay the princely sum of 2,128.00, which is well over five times at today's exchange rate!   

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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2019, 02:59:17 pm »

However, when you get to season tickets it is a very different story - Antwerp to Brussels (44km) is a very reasonable 1483,00 for 12 months, which goes down to an even more reasonable 445,00 after the employer pays their bit.
Please explain. Not familiar with this.
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Noggin
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2019, 09:54:44 pm »

However, when you get to season tickets it is a very different story - Antwerp to Brussels (44km) is a very reasonable 1483,00 for 12 months, which goes down to an even more reasonable 445,00 after the employer pays their bit.
Please explain. Not familiar with this.

i.e. Your employer is obliged to pay the greater part of your season ticket. Neat huh?
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2019, 09:52:16 am »

Neat for the employee, I don't want to start thinking through the ramifications in terms of hiring, impact on small employers, commuting habits, impact on non-employee commuters, etc. Some positive, some negative, could all quickly get very complicated!
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2019, 12:18:39 pm »

i.e. Your employer is obliged to pay the greater part of your season ticket. Neat huh?

In a way, the same happens here but with money on which you have just paid marginal rate tax!
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WelshBluebird
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2019, 12:30:34 pm »

Its worth noting that whilst probably not timed well enough for commuting, Megabus provide a pretty decent and usually well priced (often cheaper or around the same price as the train) service between Cardiff and Bristol that has a much better arrival / departure location for Cardiff City centre than National Express do, and arguably a better arrival / departure location in Bristol than Temple Meads is. Certainly since I have started spending more time in Bristol (thanks to my other half living there) rather than where I live in Bath, I have started using the Megabus to travel to Cardiff for football games instead of using the train, partly because of how more convenient the location is in Bristol!
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Adrian
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2019, 07:09:51 pm »

Abergavenny to Bristol TM at 16.90 anytime day return is fairly reasonable.  The same fare also applies to Cwmbran to Patchway, which is much poorer value for money.  And 9.00 retuen Severn Tunnel Junction to Patchway is daylight robbery now that the Severn Bridge is free.
But since these are so-called regulated fares, I don't suppose GWR is going to look too hard at the merits of adjusting any of them downwards.
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