Thursday, 29 November 2012

CONT. SECONDARY RESEARCH.

I wanted to look further into costs of train journey's as costs for train tickets are getting more expensive. As a commuter I also want to know why in January I will be paying 6% more. It has some very interesting facts about how expensive train fares can be, in comparison to other countries and nationally. It summarises how unjust the fare system is.

This is something I had previously wanted to look at - season or 'advance' tickets, and how this can alter your travel costs as well as time of day and week. 

Even though this article is from January 2012, it shows how the previous rise did to travellers fares, and gives insight in to what may happen all over again next year.

Searching for the most expensive train journey

Rail fares have gone up again, leading to claims that Britain has the most expensive trains in Europe, if not the world. So what is Britain's most expensive stretch of railway?


"You shell out thousands of pounds a year in exchange for half an hour standing with your face hidden behind the Daily Telegraph - or a copy of Metro - an elbow in the back, and from the public address system comes a series of garbled announcements about "the late running of this service".
Such is the caricatured experience of the commuter on Britain's expensive and overcrowded railways.
Ticket machines at Clapham JunctionThe arrival this week of a 6% hike in rail fares brought a mixture of weary resignation and anger from passengers. Season tickets to London from Stevenage reached £3,200, Leeds to Sheffield £2,148, and Manchester to Liverpool £2,688. Swansea to Cardiff is now £1,468 and Glasgow to Edinburgh is £3,380.

Recent research by the Campaign for Better Transport suggested that season tickets for commuters around London cost more than three times those of their Spanish and German equivalents, and 10 times more than those in Italy.

Much of the anger seems to be focused in England, particularly in the South East and London. In Scotland, ticket prices tend generally to be lower, reflecting higher subsidies.
So what is the country's most expensive stretch of railway? The obvious answer is the Heathrow Express, which clocks in at a rate of £1.17 a mile. But this is a one-off route used mainly by business travellers.
To search for the most expensive journey is to plunge into a blizzard of complexity and opaque terms and conditions. The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) says it operates services between 2,500 stations so cannot break them all down on a cost per mile basis.
Once upon a time, it would have been simple. Up until 1968 British Rail used a rigid price formula of 3.25d per mile (1.35p in decimal money).
Adjusted for inflation it works out at about 20 pence per mile. Perhaps surprisingly the average cost per mile today across the whole of the network is indeed about 20p. Railway expert Barry Doe says that in practice little changed until privatisation, at which point prices quickly diverged between the cheaper and more expensive routes.

Rail routes cost per mile

JourneySeason*Advance*Off-peak*Anytime*
SOURCE: ATOC *COST PER MILE
London-Manchester
14p
7p
40p
80p
Kettering-London
17p
11p
57p
79p
Swindon-London
20p
10p
31p
72p
Peterborough-London
15p
11p
33p
65p
St Albans-London
31p
N/A
N/A
52p
Skipton - Leeds
13p
N/A
N/A
32p
Exeter-Penzance
11p
5p
14p
30p
Edinburgh-Glasgow
15p
16p
25p
27p
Swansea-Cardiff
6p
N/A
16p
20p
Heathrow - London
N/A
N/A
N/A
£1.17p
Peak fares - known as Anytime tickets - some fares are close to reaching a pound a mile. Take a train at peak time from London to Manchester and the customer is charged £148 or 80 pence a mile.


Atoc is quick to point out that only 2% of people - mainly business travellers - use Anytime tickets.


Britain has opted for an airline-style pricing structure, which means it has the widest range of train ticket prices in the world.
So a return ticket from London to Manchester varies from £296 to £24 depending on how flexible you are willing to be about when you travel.
"We've got the most aggressively expensive and the most aggressively cheap tickets. And more people have benefited from the cheap fares than have disbenefited from the expensive tickets," Smith says.
Last year there were 1.4 billion journeys by rail - the highest number since the 1920s, when the rail network was around twice the size it is now.




There's the man who was fined £155 for getting off his train one stop early and thus breaching the terms of his advance ticket.

And booking a triangular journey is not easy. If you enter London to Liverpool, returning via Leeds, into the Trainline's website, you are greeted with the response: "No tickets are available, please refine your search".
Customers who do manage to book these kind of journeys have usually been clever with advance tickets. Buying even off-peak tickets can be expensive.
"Don't look for logic in the fares structure," says Mike Hewitson, head of policy at consumer watchdog Passenger Focus. "Most passengers think logically that if you travel further it will cost more. But there are a whole load of other factors outweighing that."
Junction
It's a mess, says the Financial Times journalist Matthew Engel who travelled around Britain by train for his book Eleven Minutes Late. "The fare system is both unjust and intolerably complex. If you are lucky and clever and have the time to tailor your journey to the way the system works then you can take advantage."
One thing nearly everyone agrees on is that costs have risen since British Rail was privatised. However, the chance of any government deciding to fund the renationalisation of the railways is about as slim as every commuter on the 07.45 from Reading to London getting a seat.
Neither will subsidies bridge the gap - the government has said it wants to bring subsidy down nearer to 20% of the ticket price rather than the 30% it is today.
The hope is that the government's ongoing review of the fares system will come up with sensible tweaks and limits on prices. Even the train operators agree that there is a need for change. "Our fares system remains largely unchanged since privatisation and no longer properly reflects how people travel today," an Atoc spokeswoman says.
But railway enthusiasts like Doe worry that such a review may see an even greater shift to advance booking. "We need to fight for the walk-on system that is unique and vital to railways. Advance fares must not be allowed to dominate."

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