Thursday, 13 November 2014

Split Ticketing

Barry Doe's Fare Dealer column in the latest issue of Rail (761 12-25 November 2014) rightly praises the arrival of This brilliant site allows you to check for rail fare savings on RETURN tickets as well as single journeys. Better still, there is no charge for using it...

Example splits that it suggests...

Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone (Monday-Friday)

05.15 out / 17.15 return - outward split at Banbury and Haddenham & Thame Parkway on Anytime Singles / return on a through Off-Peak Single: Saving £10.90 on the Anytime return

10.15 out / 16.47 return - off-peak return split at Bicester North saving £2.60 on the through Off-Peak return

Birmingham New Street to London Euston (Monday-Friday)

05.29 out / 16.43 return - return split at Milton Keynes and Coventry saving £22.35

10.10 out / 16.43 return - split at Coventry and Milton Keynes saving £69.55

DON'T FORGET that the services have to stop at the stations being used for the split so there is not always the flexibility you might require.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Chiltern family giveaway

Using their favourite medium of the +Metro Monday wrapround, +Chiltern Railways have announced this year's Autum half-term promotion: "buy a family ticket or travelcard to London this October half term holiday, and claim a free family weekend ticket to use in January!"

Full details at

The offer is available from 25th October - 2nd November 2014.

LondonMidland Super Off-Peak Monday-Thursday fare

Today, seemingly without fanfare*, +London Midland introduced a Monday-Thursday Super Off-Peak return fare between Birmingham and London of £18. This fare has the same restrictions as its £23 equivalent BUT of course is only valid for travel between Monday and Thursday. The £23 fare remains valid for journeys throughout the week.

Note that there is no equivalent Super Off-Peak Single but then one doesn't have to come back on a Return...

* Press notice was issued Wednesday 22nd October:

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Annual Gold Card from January 2015 - updated

At last, the anomaly concerning the purchase of Annual Season Tickets with a Gold Card is being addressed. As readers of my blog may remember, the current situation is that to get a Gold Card with an annual season ticket, the ticket had to be bought AND have an origin or destination station within the old Network South-East area. This meant that holders of Birmingham to London Annual Season Tickets had to buy them from London rather than Birmingham.

From January 2015, the Annual Gold Card area is being extended considerably so that any annual season ticket between stations from Birmingham to London (EXCEPT those wholly within the Network West Midlands area) is eligible for the Annual Gold Card. Full details can be found at

Good news for +Chiltern Railways and +London Midland commuters. NOTE however that Virgin Trains will NOT be accepting Annual Gold Card discounted tickets from January.

An interesting side-effect of these changes is that a Gold Card will become available for £108 (plus whatever increase is applied in the January fare-round). This is the price of the Lichfield City - Lichfield Trent Valley Annual Season Ticket - a journey which is within the new Gold Card area. A saving of £140 on the current area's lowest price annual season ticket between Ryde Esplanade and Ryde Pierhead!

Barry Doe has written a very useful overview of the usefulness of the new version of the Card in Rail 761 (12-25 November 2014)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

1966 and all that...

Among all the exhortation of Mr Shooter's Presidential Address there were of course nuggets of interest to those of us who follow the fortunes of the routes between Birmingham and London.

Take timings between the two cities. In 1966, it was promised that the fastest timings between Birmingham and London would be 94 mins (down from 112 mins) with one train an hour using the 100mph capability between New St and Euston (Your New Railway April 1966). Almost fifty years on, Virgin run three trains an hour with average timings of 84 mins (fastest 73 mins) whilst Chiltern match the original electric timings with their diesel powered services.

Mr Shooter's view is that the 'rivalry' (I wonder if Virgin see it as such?) between Chiltern and Virgin has been good for Birmingham, driving up customer service and driving down fares. He is particularly pleased with the ongoing poster wars between the two companies... Of course, his remark came on the day that Chiltern amended their regular Monday wrap-round of the Metro in Birmingham to poke fun at Virgin's 'Arrive Awesome' campaign!

Sorry, I still don't get the enthusiasm for HS2...

Interestingly, in his Presidential Address, Mr Shooter did not refer to HS2. During the Q&A session afterwards, he did state his support for the Project and said it would be good for Greater Birmingham: citing the creation of jobs during construction, the HS2 depot in Birmingham, and (just announced) the HS2 Academy.

These benefits are of course mid-term with HS2 not being completed until 2026. For me, one remark in his address underlines all my fears about the Project. Referring to London, he said that it was good for the rest of the country to have this 'magnet' of a capital and that regions such as Greater Birmingham should work with London rather than against it. Alas, I see no evidence that HS2 will enable this working together. Rather, the Project when completed will simply add to the magnetic power of the capital and hasten Birmingham's capitulation to being a dormitory city whose best talent commutes southwards...

Adrian Shooter: confidence in Greater Birmingham

Three years ago I was lucky enough to hear Adrian Shooter's valedictory address to the 4th Friday Club. Last night, I was fortunate to listen to his Presidential Address to the Birmingham & Midland Institute...

The theme of his address was 'Confidence' which of course his own career exemplifies. Indeed there is an apocryphal 'Shooter's Law': if you are not told not to do something then do it. However, for the purposes of the address, he focused on why Birmingham and the surrounding conurbations should be more confident.

Provocatively starting by declaring that Birmingham is no longer the 'second city' - indeed is probably fourth or fifth behind Manchester and Leeds - he highlighted what is holding Birmingham back: poor schools, lack of technical skills, and (key to his argument) the inability to work with its neighbours. In particular he argued against the local authority boundaries which lead to such anomalies as Birmingham ending half-a-mile from Five Ways...

His solution is a 'Greater Birmingham' where politicians set aside their parochial differences to confidently work together for the promotion of the whole of the West Midlands. He cited Greater Manchester (and of course London) as examples of what could be achieved by such an approach. In addition, he wants a Mayor for the area to be the leader who will drive the necessary collaboration - again, citing the success of the London model.

His belief is that the foundations of economic success are there: two excellent universities, Jaguar Land Rover design and build skills, the digital hub at the Custard Factory, the burgeoning financial and professional sector. What is needed is confidence among our local politicians that standing together achieves more than standing apart.