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Author Topic: Malvern Link to Birmingham Stations off peak day return  (Read 1376 times)
Mark A
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« on: February 28, 2024, 20:57:29 »

A bit stumped on this one: it might be expeced that 'Any reasonable route' for Malvern Link to Birmingham to include both via Droitwich and via Kidderminster. It always did...

No longer so according to the National Rail web site.

The default is via Droitwich, yes, at £13:20 for an off peak day return.

Set the route via Kidderminster and the price and type of ticket is the same, but then, select the return journey and the site does not allow one to remove the 'Via Kidderminster', so offers only that route.

So, I asked West Midlands twitter people for the details of the routing and they stated 'Via Droitwich' too. Perhaps they checked using the National Rail site as well. It feels as though the site should be better at indicating all the routes available to the traveller.

Ah, checking Foregate Street as the origin station, again, same price for both routes, but once one's committed to an outward journey e.g. via Kidderminster, on proceeding to select the return journey, against all returns via Droitwich, the site states 'No fares available'. That's irksome and a big loss of flexibility (and feels broken, I'll send them some feedback...)

Mark
« Last Edit: February 28, 2024, 21:14:53 by Mark A » Logged
ChrisB
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2024, 21:11:47 »

As I understand it, you can go via either route (as you ascertain), but it is a CDR (Off Peak Day Return [ticket type] (formerly 'Cheap Day')), not a rover ticket, so I suspect you can't use it to go in a circle, but out & back the same route.
But who will know which route you use outward?....so just go ahead.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2024, 06:27:07 »

BR (British Rail(ways)) Fares does not differentiate and only has "any permitted" tickets.  Malvern Link to Birmingham Stations

I speculate / guess that the inability you report (according to the ticketing system) to return via a different permitted route to you selected outbound is a fault / bug in the system. As a generality it would be a massive restrictive change and could be severely damaging on certain journeys.   Sorry, folks, I know Melksham gets mention beyond its passenger numbers here, but ... fares to Bristol Temple Meads are valid via Chippenham and via Trowbridge; to add a restriction that you have to come back the same way you went out would have the services available on return, reducing an hourly opportunity to one hat's only a two-hourly opportunity.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2024, 06:55:45 »

You are now getting me worried about my tickets to Portsmouth Harbour. You can go and return either via Basingstoke or Guildford. I use the flexibility of that a lot and worry about "simplifying" the ticketing system.
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Mark A
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« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2024, 08:44:17 »

I've muddied the waters slightly by checking 'Via Kidderminster' or 'Via Droitwich' as both routes go via Droitwich before splitting, so, 'Via Bromsgrove' is better.

For this journey, the outcome is the same though: setting a 'Via' for the outward journey constrains the results for the return journey.

Another example: Teddington in south west London being on that loop out and back to Waterloo - search for a return from Teddington to Waterloo, select an outward train via Kingston and again the return trains are then constricted to 'Via Kingston' too - with the exception that should there be a quicker connection via Richmond, the National Rail site will include that in the list of return trains. This is in contrast to the Malvern Link - Kidderminster example. There, the route via Bromsgrove is much quicker than that via Kidderminster but with the outward route set to be 'Via Kidderminster', the possible return trains via Bromsgrove aren't listed.

I agree with Grahame that the National Rail web site isn't behaving in accordance with the routing guide, which for a couple of reasons is something that should be fixed - and that CyclingSid needn't be concerned about his ticket via Basingstoke or Guildford. Well, at least as long as it doesn't emerge that the system is now specifying the route on the ticket itself in which case, as Grahame says, a massive loss of functionality for the passenger.

I've sent something in to National Rail's customer services on this. Also, their site is quite fond of slinging a link to a survey - but unfortunately the pop up window it opens is very fugitive and vanishes should it lose focus.

Mark
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2024, 09:30:29 »

For this journey, the outcome is the same though: setting a 'Via' for the outward journey constrains the results for the return journey.

I suspect your answers there - with the system making an assumption that you want to go back the same way you went out.
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Mark A
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« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2024, 09:34:57 »

I think staff on the ground will be pragmatic, a bit worrying if a passenger comes across a ticket inspector who checks the national rail site, but that's unlikely - and as long as system doesn't say start printing the ticket with a restriction to a single out and back 'Via' then the principle of any reasonable route will not be affected. I'll relay what the National Rail people come back with...

Mark
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2024, 10:58:37 »

Is it possible to simplify the ticketing system without changing the routing guide?

Sid
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stuving
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« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2024, 11:03:35 »

For this journey, the outcome is the same though: setting a 'Via' for the outward journey constrains the results for the return journey.

I suspect your answers there - with the system making an assumption that you want to go back the same way you went out.

But you've told it to do just that. The "via" applies to its train (journey) search both ways, and always did. It does both outward and return searches before you see the results. With the new NRE(resolve) site you don't see the return options at first any more, but I don't think the underlying OJP (Online Journey Planner) engine (the Real Time Journey Planner WebService) has changed.

Another change with the new NRE site is that the description of "via" is now more explicitly that the train must stop there; just passing through does not count. That was left ambiguous before.
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Mark A
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« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2024, 13:53:59 »

But you've told it to do just that.

That's a good point. In this case I was specifiying the route in an attempt to find out whether both of the possible routes, via Kidderminster and via  Bromsgrove, are valid.

Another change with the new NRE(resolve) site is that the description of "via" is now more explicitly that the train must stop there; just passing through does not count. That was left ambiguous before.

That's another good point, but is actually a problem for the traveller who is not looking for split ticket savings but needs to check the limits of 'Any reasonable route'. If a line provides a mixture of stoppers and fast trains their ticket might well be valid for the faster services that do not stop at the station the passenger has picked to check the route validity.

Mark
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2024, 14:38:39 »

The GWR (Great Western Railway) website is offering via Worcestershire Parkway too at the same price, and some very fast journeys too if you tryst a five minute change. Just sayin'.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2024, 14:36:47 »

The other thing that the planner does by default (and I don't think you can override it) is look for the fastest journeys that fit your parameters. And won't offer any that get overtaken (timewise or literally)

AND as IU mentioned before, it won't allow a return fare to act as a rover ticket.
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Mark A
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2024, 15:22:41 »

How it turned out...

On the day, plans changed, friend drove myself to Kidderminster and we parked up there for a run to Highley and back on the SVR on a fairly packed SVR train. Very few alighted at Highley to enjoy the tranquillity of the damp, shaded, moist and chilly afternoon there. In the bottom of the valley, the Severn, in its bed, was ignoring everyone and getting on with the task of moving a substantial amount of red-brown water in the direction of the Atlantic.

In the evening, into Birmingham and back out on the train. Being on a valid route as it turns out, he used his Malvern Link to Birmingham Stations ticket, I bought a day return from the sole machine outside the station and off through Stourbridge Junction, after which there was a ticket check, and up the hill we went to swing round and under the city centre to Moorgate.

At the end of the evening, a quick walk across the city centre from a 10:30 event finish to catch the last train back to Kidderminster, which leaves Moor Street at 22:50 and Snow Hill at 23:00. Traversing New Street's concourse side to side, platform barriers were open and there were no visible staff save for a group of cleaners who were making a good job of fielding the odd customer enquiry, including mine as to where the best exit was for a walk to Snow Hill. Snow Hill's ticket barriers were in operation, many travellers about, some a bit the worse for wear and all cheerful and mostly benign.

I took a photo of *that* girder but didn't have time to walk down the platform and take the photo from a sensible direction, let alone be in position for a photo of Clun Castle returning from Salisbury, a loco which if sentient might have been old friends with the girder.

Off to Kidderminster on a very full-and-standing 5 carriage train south. Well, north, then west then south.

Despite the blocked aisles, the train manager cheerfully came round and checked everyone's tickets.

Trains on this line look to be not exactly young, but, solid interiors, lighting not terrible, very well maintained and windows kept spotless.

The train very much emptied out at Stourbridge Junction and perhaps some headed for the connection to the town station. Quite a few more left the train at Kidderminster and the train, rather more quiet, continued to Worcester over the line that I recall by the end of the seventies had only ~4 trains a day.

Mark

https://i.postimg.cc/V6kcWkgQ/snow-hill-that-girder-top-1600.jpg
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ChrisB
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2024, 16:00:37 »

In the evening, into Birmingham and back out on the train. Being on a valid route as it turns out, he used his Malvern Link to Birmingham Stations ticket, I bought a day return from the sole machine outside the station and off through Stourbridge Junction, after which there was a ticket check, and up the hill we went to swing round and under the city centre to Moorgate.

Moor Street, perhaps?  Kiss
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Mark A
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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2024, 22:01:11 »


AND as IU mentioned before, it won't allow a return fare to act as a rover ticket.

Well, yes, a return ticket isn't going to be happy with the traveller doubling back. But as for being day-roverish, there can't be much more flexible at the present time than... is it a Bath - Great Malvern day return, that, last time I checked covered, for example, a route out via Newport and Hereford, back via Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol Parkway... or Gloucester, Stroud, Swindon, Chippenham.

It's a pity though that *turns clock back* Hereford to Gloucester via Ross is no longer available (break of journey to climb May Hill) or change at Ledbury for a run to Gloucester via Dymock (with a nod to various poets, and also more daffodils and better ones than Wordsworth could shake a stick at). Perhaps a Sunday diversion might even have taken the intrepid traveller over the Severn Rail Bridge, and all these options on a simple return ticket.

Mark
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