MSE News: Promises of cheaper self-service rail tickets overblown

"Reforms to give commuters access to the cheapest train fares have been vastly exaggerated, MoneySavingExpert has found..."
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Promises of cheaper self-service rail tickets overblown

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  • silvercarsilvercar Forumite, Ambassador
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    Not surprised.

    Let's be honest, did anyone expect the machines to do ticket splits?
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  • Mids_CostcutterMids_Costcutter Forumite
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    Exactly, most self-service machines only sell tickets originating from that station, making split ticketing impossible.

    Even when the new code for train operators is fully implemented train operators will only be required to 'promote' all of the fares available from machines. The first step will be for machines to advise if a potentially cheaper fare is available from the ticket office. What if your local station is one of the many where the ticket office has been closed or had opening hours cut?

    Yes, this is really putting the passenger first!
  • smsm1smsm1 Forumite
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    Why can't Britain introduce train ticket machines similar to the German ones, which allow you to access any train ticket that you can buy online through the bahn.de website. This includes trains to or from other stations, and future dated advance fares. If Germany can do it why can't Britain?
  • JezRJezR Forumite
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    MSE has been a bit slow in realising that all that is to be done on a short term basis is to direct people to ticket offices by notices, as that was included in the initial reporting elsewhere.
  • 4 and a half year of Government inaction and then this. Is there an election coming up? :-)
  • edited 7 January 2015 at 11:13PM
    Mids_CostcutterMids_Costcutter Forumite
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    edited 7 January 2015 at 11:13PM
    smsm1 wrote: »
    Why can't Britain introduce train ticket machines similar to the German ones, which allow you to access any train ticket that you can buy online through the bahn.de website. This includes trains to or from other stations, and future dated advance fares. If Germany can do it why can't Britain?

    Because Germany has one fully-integrated company, Deutsche Bahn, operating the vast majority of passenger services. There are a couple of competing private operators now though. Meanwhile Great Britain has 22 train operating companies operating domestic passenger services. Why would, for example, London Midland be interested in helping a passenger to find a cheaper ticket on a Virgin Trains' service?

    How many threads and articles are there on this web site helping people to find cheaper / more flexible tickets because of the way passenger rail in Britain is organised?
  • callum9999callum9999 Forumite
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    Because Germany has one fully-integrated company, Deutsche Bahn, operating the vast majority of passenger services. There are a couple of competing private operators now though. Meanwhile Great Britain has 22 train operating companies operating domestic passenger services. Why would, for example, London Midland be interested in helping a passenger to find a cheaper ticket on a Virgin Trains' service?

    How many threads and articles are there on this web site helping people to find cheaper / more flexible tickets because of the way passenger rail in Britain is organised?

    The flip side to that being savvy UK users can often get better deals than those on the continent can. While average costs on the continent may be lower, try finding a £1.50 rail ticket equivalent to London to Birmingham etc.
  • edited 8 January 2015 at 12:44AM
    PorcupinePorcupine Forumite
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    edited 8 January 2015 at 12:44AM
    It's also that ticket machines are designed to be simple and fast. If you make them too slow or too complicated, large queues can build up in peak times. You don't want the people who are buying split-ticket boat-train tickets to Ireland to hold up 50 grumpy commuters behind them - better that those people do it on the web (or on a 'web ticket kiosk' in a quiet corner of the station) where they aren't in the way of everyone else.

    In some senses the sticker is a help, then... makes clear that a FastTicket machine is like a fast food restaurant - a limited selection of tickets served quickly, go elsewhere for a wider range.

    Having said that, unmanned stations or those with limited opening hours should have 'full service' machines selling all tickets.

    And as far as the fares system goes, you can have cheap or simple, pick one. In Switzerland the fares system is simple. Every (domestic) ticket is flexible, there are no 'off peak' or 'advance' fares. But they're all eyewateringly expensive. Not sure we want that here.

    Here, there are multiple companies so there is choice. For instance, both Virgin and London Midland go between London and Crewe. You can travel on a London Midland train and pay much less, but take an extra hour. This is useful if you're on a budget, and wouldn't exist in a Swiss-style system. In other countries you'd pay extra for an Intercity train - it's just the same as here, only we call the fast train 'Virgin' instead of 'Intercity'. In Germany for instance the fast trains are run by a different bit of Deutsche Bahn (DB Fernverkehr) than the regional trains (DB Regio) - which is just like Virgin v London Midland. The only thing here is we don't paint all our trains red.
  • aleph_0aleph_0 Forumite
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    Porcupine wrote: »
    It's also that ticket machines are designed to be simple and fast. If you make them too slow or too complicated, large queues can build up in peak times. You don't want the people who are buying split-ticket boat-train tickets to Ireland to hold up 50 grumpy commuters behind them - better that those people do it on the web (or on a 'web ticket kiosk' in a quiet corner of the station) where they aren't in the way of everyone else.

    The design of how they work is simple, but they're not simple to use.

    They really aren't designed to be fast. The logic in them is simple, but the user interfaces are unintuitive, and in some locations they even lack some of the walk-on fares. In others, they're offering more choice than is needed (e.g. when ticket X is valid anytime from 9am, and the cheaper ticket Y anytime from 10am, then after 10am offering ticket X is clearly silly

    More complexity could be introduced into the back-end without making the front-end any slower. In fact, it should make the experience quicker by removing unnecessary options. The front-end could also be significantly improved.
  • Mids_CostcutterMids_Costcutter Forumite
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    Porcupine wrote: »
    Here, there are multiple companies so there is choice. For instance, both Virgin and London Midland go between London and Crewe. You can travel on a London Midland train and pay much less, but take an extra hour. This is useful if you're on a budget, and wouldn't exist in a Swiss-style system. In other countries you'd pay extra for an Intercity train - it's just the same as here, only we call the fast train 'Virgin' instead of 'Intercity'. In Germany for instance the fast trains are run by a different bit of Deutsche Bahn (DB Fernverkehr) than the regional trains (DB Regio) - which is just like Virgin v London Midland. The only thing here is we don't paint all our trains red.

    Yes, there is some choice on some routes to London, but for the majority of the network that's not the case. Do we need to have competing operators on the Birmingham to Leicester line in order to see a decent level of service and affordable fares? And is a choice of slow and cheap or fast and expensive the way to encourage people to switch from car to rail?

    Swiss Railways also have discounted fares (Sparbilletten) with a reduction of up to 50% and available only online or via a mobile phone app. They also have a network that's fully integrated: services that connect with each other and other modes such as boat and bus.
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