Sunday, 23 August 2015

Virgin Trains withdrawal of peak time railcard easements from 6th September

One of the quirks of the Birmingham to London routes has been Virgin West Coast's easement for 16-25 & Senior railcard holders allowing the use of off-peak tickets on peak hour trains. From Sunday 6th September, this easement will be withdrawn -see this FAQ

Clearly this is bad news for those railcard holders who have been benefiting from Virgin's easement: an off-peak return fare of £34.15 will become an Anytime Return at £110.90 although Virgin do say that more Advance purchase tickets will be made available...

So what should an affected Railcard holder do? Clearly the first thing to check is that the journey needs to be at peak times for both legs. The Split Ticketing site is an essential place to start exploring the different options available - for instance, returning to Birmingham on the 16.43 from Euston is effectively off-peak by splitting the fare at Milton Keynes and Coventry.

Secondly, consider using London Midland services to / from Euston or Chiltern Railways services to / from Marylebone. Although slower, both companies' fares are much cheaper than Virgin's as their time restrictions are much less onerous.

Finally, buy your off-peak tickets now as return journeys after the 6th September will be honoured (so Virgin tell me).

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