FOUR TICKET TYPES ONLY
It is as easy as A, B, C ...
A - Anytime
The recent publicity talked about ludicrously expensive fares which no-one would ever use; but there is still a case for retaining peak hour restrictions into our big "commuter" cities. The pain of premium prices would be mitigated by buying, say, an Anytime single from Brighton to London for travel at 0800 on Monday, but a cheaper single for the return journey at 1400 in the afternoon or 1900 in the evening.
Priced at 50% more than Base (see below)
B - Base
This would be the "standard" fare for any journey made outside the (limited) peak hour "travel at your stand-all-the-way peril" time slot for commuters. Currently off-peak tickets are restricted only for morning arrivals in the big city, but there may be a case for an evening departure restriction as well. There would be no time penalty on longer journeys whether they go via (e.g. London) or not.
C - Cut Price
This would replace Super Off Peak and some of the higher Advance fares. Availability would vary nationally (e.g. NOT Fridays on Inter City lines; longer peak restriction on commuter lines) but the ticket would always be available for weekend and Bank Holiday travel. Unlike today's Advance, it would not be limited to a specified train. Reserved seats would not be available.
Priced at 50% less than Base
A, B and C tickets would not be limited to specific operators.
D - Double Discount
This would replace the silly and very limited "Advance" tickets. It would be a replacement for company specific special offers. It would also be the basis for season tickets. Exceptionally, individual tickets at this price band might be restricted to a specific train or group of trains.
Priced at 50% less than Cut Price. Reserved seats would not be available.
These would be defined as a multiple of C-priced tickets; e.g. one week, 13 x C; one year 540 x C. A pack of these C-priced tickets could be sold for irregular commuting patterns.
So let's try this scheme, set against the Axminster to Andover fares listed on yesterday's blog. Where a single is not currently available at Axminster, the price is shown in brackets.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
This is about a simpler relationship between different types of ticket. The actual price level is a whole different ball-game.
Anomalies that lead to a lunatic forage for split ticketing will need to be removed. (And the best of British luck to whoever gets the job!)
All tickets would be available on the day and from ticket offices as well as machines and on-line.
As the prices are calculated as a simple percentage of base, there would be no need for systems to store millions of fares. The choices could be calculated "on the fly" and displayed as a simple grid with restrictions clearly shown.
Every ticket sold would be printed with the specific restrictions for that ticket; so no excuse for misuse or misunderstanding.
Another fair-deal tidy up would provide for the opportunity to upgrade from one grade of ticket to another if circumstances change. This removed the rip-off of being forced to donate you fare to the Directors' champagne and caviar fund if you fail to travel when they want you to.
Ah... but ...
The anguished cry reverberates throughout the industry, "this makes a nonsense of all our business plans and franchise bids, It will be a financial disaster."
So we need an independent fares "tsar" to act as a sort of hyper-referee. He/she would be independent of Government, Operating Companies, DaFT, The Treasury, Passenger Groups and the station cat. The remit would be to oversee the change and adjust franchise subsidies or premiums (premia?) to ensure that the overall result was balance-sheet neutral.
The obvious (only?) suitable candidate for such a role would be fares guru Barry Doe ...
This is proffered as a topic for discussion and debate, not as a fully formed proposal. Much more work would be needed to dot the ts and cross the is.
fbb suggests, hesitantly, that any comments for appending to this blog should be simple and general. Specific thoughts can be e-mailed to:-
And finally, finally
To those who are keen "Advance" bookers, well done for getting cheapo fares. But readers should remember that such bargains probably account for only 3.6% of all tickets sold. Doesn't sound much until the other statistic is revealed. "Advance" fares account for 14% of rail revenue. Conclusion; the longer distance train companies sell the majority of this type of ticket - which is why fbb struggles to get a seat!
It's not straightforward, is it?