Saturday, 7 September 2013

So long and thanks for the ride...

Not sure that I can claim to be a poacher turned gamekeeper but I have taken a position with one of the three TOCs upon whose services this blog comments... so alas I can no longer claim independence and will have to put my blogging and tweeting activities on hold.

All the best with your journeys this Autumn


Friday, 9 August 2013

Index showing average change in price of rail fares 2004 - 2013

Late last month, David Milward, transport editor of the +The Telegraph, published an article on fare rises based on ORR Statistics: Cost of rail travel rapidly outstripping inflation, official figures show

I was intrigued by his article as I couldn't find the official figures to which he referred. Fortunately, Juliet Hyatt of the Office Of Rail Regulation has come to my rescue. She writes:

"Your enquiry was passed to our statistics team who have advised that the 23.1% increase in real terms quoted is taken from the "Index showing average change in price of rail fares 2004-2013", the latest version of which was published last Thursday (1st August 2013). The 23.1% refers to the real terms change in average past 2013 compared to 2004, for "Anytime" tickets for all operators.

The report we publish includes the change for other ticket types (including other walk-up fares such as off-peak) for each of the three sectors (long distance, Regional, and London and South East) plus all operators combined."

From this table, the actual % fare increases in real terms by the Groups to which the three Birmingham-London train operating companies fall is as follows:

+Chiltern Railways (London & SE)

Advance .... -3.8
Anytime .... 15.9
Off Peak ... 18.4
Season .... 12.9
Super Off-Peak ... 9.7
Other ... -0.6
All Tickets ....15
Revenue per journey ... -2.5

+Virgin Trains (Long Distance)

Advance .... 21.4
Anytime .... 31.5
Off Peak ... 14
Season .... 17.9
Super Off-Peak ... 14.6
Other ... 22.3
All Tickets ....22
Revenue per journey ... -7.7

+London Midland

Advance .... 17.6
Anytime .... 17
Off Peak ... 13.9
Season .... 10.4
Super Off-Peak ... 21
Other ... 11.3
All Tickets ....14.7
Revenue per journey ... 8.1

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Virgin Trains Super Off-Peak fares

Virgin Trains have introduced a £28 Super Off-Peak walk-on return fare between Birmingham and London during August.

Monday to Friday northbound outward travel from Euston is available for departures between 1100 and 1400 and after 2015; Saturday and Sunday departures between 1030 and 1630 and after 1830. RETURN travel must be on trains arriving into Euston between 1250 and 1615 and after 2030 Monday to Friday or between 1208 and 1750 and after 2005 Saturday and Sunday (ie departing New Street from 11.30 to 14.50 and after 1910 M-F, or from 1050 to 1610 and after 1850 S/S)

Monday to Friday northbound outward travel from New Street is available for departures between 1130 and 1500 and after 1900; Saturday and Sunday departures between 1030 and 1630 and after 1830. RETURN travel must be on trains arriving into\New Street between 1225 and 1530 and after 2140 Monday to Friday or between 1208 and 1750 and after 2005 Saturday and Sunday (ie departing Euston from 11.03 to 14.03 and after 2023 M-F, or from 1103 to 1623 and after 1843 S/S)

Conditions include:
Normal railcard and child discounts available.
You may start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station along the route of travel.
Super Off-Peak single tickets are available online for half the stated fare only when purchased as a return journey in conjunction with another single fare

Monday, 29 July 2013

Chiltern's Summer of Surprises promotion

This week's very pleasant surprise is 30% off ANY +Chiltern Railways  fare between Birmingham Moor Street (ONLY) and London Marylebone - see

A voucher has to be downloaded after registration and the tickets are only available from the Birmingham Moor Street ticket office on the day of travel. However, well worth it as the fares from now until Sunday September 1st are:

Anytime return: £66.50 / Off Peak £35 / Super Off Peak £19.25

Talk about a bargain!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.... overcrowding between Birmingham and London?

So +Chiltern Railways apparently join +London Midland in running an overcrowded service between Birmingham and London.... According to the Department of Transport, the 0619 Chiltern Service from Moor Street had a 155% standard class load factor on arrival in Marylebone during the Autumn of 2012 (making it no. 6 in the top ten list of 'most overcrowded' services) whilst the 1813 LM departure from Euston ran at 165% standard class load factor on leaving (making it no. 2).

Of course the 0619 no longer runs, whilst the 1813 is 'only' overcrowded until its first stop at Leighton Buzzard so passengers of both companies travelling between Birmingham and London can ignore the media (and governmental) hype and be assured that their journey - whatever the time of day - will be in relative comfort...

For those who like digging deeper into the stories behind the headlines, the actual statistical report makes fascinating reading... In particular, this explanatory paragraph caught my eye:

Paddington and Marylebone had the highest levels of PiXC* despite having below average levels of passengers standing. A large number of services into both of these terminals travel for more than 20 minutes between their final stop and the terminal and so do not have standing allowances included in their standard class capacities. This means that a significant part of the PiXC seen on these routes represents passengers having to stand for more than 20 minutes rather than necessarily having to travel in cramped conditions.
* Passengers In Excess of Capacity (PIXC) only applies to weekday commuter trains arriving in London between 07:00 and 09:59 and those departing between 16:00 and 18:59.

Which would you rather do: stand for more than 20 minutes or travel in cramped conditions? Who'd run a railway when the Government sets the parameters and then blames the companies for matters largely outside their control...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Summer offers from the three TOCs - updated Wednesday 24th July 2013

+Virgin Trains has a First Class seat sale for travel between Monday 29 July and Sunday 1 September. Booking in advance is required and advance booking for the sale closes on Tuesday 23rd July. Fares between Birmingham and London start at £18.50 and seem to be available most days after 9.30. Fares from London to Birmingham also start at £18.50 but seem to be available only in the morning and evening Monday to Fridays (though all day on Saturday and most of the day Sunday).
The Sale has ended but £23.50 First Class Advance Single tickets seem to be fairly widely available in August both ways outside the Monday-Friday peak times

+Chiltern Railways ' Evening Standard £2.50 offer ends on Friday 26th July with the last day for booking being Thursday 25th July. Full details in a previous blog post. Don't forget that the Chiltern 'Summer of Surprises' promotion promises "Everything from special travel offers and fantastic discounts on hundreds of amazing attractions to exclusive competitions and giveaways" during the six week break...
The first 'Summer of Surprises' email has now been distributed and features...
Win the ultimate shopping spree courtesy of Bicester Village 
Win a day of hospitality at the Women's Ashes at Wormsley Cricket Ground near High Wycombe Station

+London Midland are waiting for the Royal Birth before 'The Kate Escape' begins... The promise is 1% off LM advance and off-peak tickers for every pound the new baby weighs (eg 8lb birth weight will mean 8% off). You have to be registered for LM marketing emails to get the 'special' link, and the sale is not likely to last for long...
The arrival of the Prince has enabled LM to email their registered web users with details of the 8% discount on Advance and Off-Peak LM fares. Advance bookings to be made or off-peak walk-on tickets bought through the web site by Sunday 4th of August; outward travel must be by Sunday 1st September.

Finally, +London Midland are looking for volunteers to test a new iPhone and Android app - visit for more information.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Chiltern south, Virgin north: the perfect combination?

Twice last week I had to be in London for early afternoon with an early evening event to complete the day. In such circumstances, you cannot beat using +Chiltern Railways  to go up to the capital and picking up a Virgin Pendolino for the return. My only proviso is that you need to be confident enough of your return timings to book the Virgin leg in advance...

Chiltern Railways walk-on Super Off-peak singles are valid on the 9.55 Clubman service from Moor Street (arrives Marylebone 11.34) and subsequent services. A SOP single costs £27.40 so you might as well buy the SOP return for 10p more (£27.50) and have an extra ticket should you need one later in the 'rolling' month following the purchase date. Clubmans are fine - free WiFi, tables with power sockets, catering trolley on most morning services south - but for true added value use the Silver Sets that form the 10.55 and 12.55 services from Moor Street.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am not a fan of standard class travel on Virgin Pendolinos... the seats are crammed into the carriages, tables are few as are power sockets, and you have to pay for the WiFi. Fortunately, Virgin offer very competitive advance First Class fares on their evening services back from Euston: £23.50 starting with the 20.23 deparrture. For this fare, you get access to the First Class Lounge at Euston (which is far better than hanging around the concourse), decent seating with tables and power sockets, free WiFi, and, of course, free refreshments. Further more, to be fair - see an earlier blog - the staff seem much more friendly....

Overall, a no-brainer!