January 2014 Mid Cheshire train fare increases ….

Posted on January 8th, 2014, by The Chairman

Always a good subject for a moan, the fare rises (and MCRUA!) even made page 3 of this week’s Knutsford Guardian, together with a nice picture of the bikes with the Manchester platform in the background.

For those looking for the new fares from their local station, we haven’t been able to update our website with these yet, as the disk we buy from the Stationery Office is running about 2 weeks late!

Please leave a comment

  1. Jen Says:

    I would say that the fares in the Chester direction from Knutsford aren’t really good value for money for those who aren’t travelling with someone else in both directions off-peak.

    Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield is £4.20 for an off-peak return and there’s a class 323 every half-hour.

    Knutsford to Delamere is £8.90 for an off-peak return, while Chester is £10.50 for an hourly service and you’ve got a high chance of getting a Pacer in at least one direction.

    Maybe Northern should introduce some Advance tickets for the Knutsford-Chester section?

  2. Conductor Says:

    Advance tickets?! Please “No”, as they are a nightmare to enforce! We have enough problems with the ‘Virgin Trains Only’ tickets and advance tickets on other lines with passengers required to pay again after a long explanation and argument about tickets. Yes, they are good value but you are restricted to one train, miss that and you pay again.

    As we know, TfGM subsidise fares around Greater Manchester along with the good value Wayfarer tickets. It’s not a real fair comparison to compare the commuter heavy Hadfield line that’s been electrified for years to a non-electrified and non-subsidised route in Cheshire. You’re better comparing routes such as New Mills – Sheffield, Buxton – Stockport for fare comparisons.

  3. Jen Says:

    A few points in relation to Conductor’s comments:

    For the Buxton line off-peak tickets to Manchester are valid for weekday departures from 08:15. A similar journey time/length to Chester-Knutsford on the Buxton line is Buxton-Woodsmoor which is £9.50 for an off-peak return, the Wayfarer ticket you mention is also valid for that journey so for over 60s the journey can be made for £6 return without holding a railcard. The Buxton line has also seen extra capacity on busy services, some journey time improvements and is guaranteed to be Pacer free, while with the Mid-Cheshire line journey times have gone longer and there’s not been any extra capacity, unless you count the 15:04 Chester-Manchester where the extra capacity came from withdrawing a later service. There’s also a Buxton-Manchester Anytime Return ticket available so if you’re staying overnight in Manchester you don’t need to purchase two singles unlike with Northwich/Knutsford to Manchester. So there’s a lot to do to bring the Mid-Cheshire line up to the same standard as the Buxton line and the Buxton line isn’t exactly perfect.

    The Calder Vale line does have Advance tickets so why should the Calder Vale line have them and the Mid-Cheshire line not? I imagine you’ll have more problems with Virgin only tickets than with Advance tickets as Virgin only tickets are available to anyone who presses the wrong button on a TVM when purchasing a ticket whereas Advance tickets have to be purchased in Advance.

  4. Music Fan Says:

    I agree strongly about ‘no Advance tickets’. It’s difficult enough explaining the current ticketing options as we do in the station-by-station fares posters. And let’s not knock the Pacers too hard – I see the Rail article hardly showed them and Portillo’s current Northern tour seems to be avoiding them in the boarding and on-train shots.

  5. Jen Says:

    Advance tickets specifically state that they are only valid with a reservation in big black letters and the reservation specifically states which service you are permitted to travel on, preceded by the word ‘only’. For me, they display their restriction much clearer than normal off-peak tickets which don’t specifically state when off-peak starts or tell you ‘Route: Any Permitted’ but don’t say what the permitted routes are.

  6. Conductor Says:

    Jen: The Buxton line is Pacer free because of restrictions on 142s beyond Hazel Grove. I don’t see how it has any relevance to fares as the company don’t allocate rolling stock to fare prices. It’s done on seating, pathing times and where the unit ends up at night. Yorkshire get comfortable 158s beyond PTE boundaries whilst the west get 142s on Southport, Sheffield, Chester and Blackpool routes.

    Journey times on the Buxton line have decreased by by 1 minute on some trains but equally increased by 1 minute on others so it’s not really worth mentioning. Despite the swap between the Mid-Cheshire and Buxton lines in regards to Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme the arrival times into Manchester are the same. Journey times on the Mid-Cheshire have increased because of the increased passenger numbers and partially by the request by MCRUA to re-examine the sectional running times. There are more double units on the Buxton line because of the higher passenger numbers between Hazel Grove – Manchester – Bolton at peak times, more so than the Mid-Cheshire. The 0717 does desperately need an extra unit though.

    Buxton – Manchester is the only fare available for SOR, your unable to purchase it from any other station along the line. Knutsford – Manchester is too short of a journey and Knutsford isn’t a tourist town compared to Buxton for people visiting for more than a day so no SOR/SVR available. If people wish to go DLM/CUD/GBK/Northwich – Manchester for an overnight stay, I sell them a SOR Mouldworth – Manchester as it is cheaper than 2 singles. The problem with the SOR tickets is that commuters who travel daily treat them as a season ticket until they are stamped. A well known problem on the Crewe and Stoke lines.

    Advance tickets do state the train or “valid with xxxx reservation” with a service time on it but passengers still board the wrong trains and expect it to be the same fare. Someone the other week paid £4 online for a ticket but got a peak time train 3 hours early than the booked ticket. The fare was approx £12 and they were angry that they couldn’t pay the £4 fare. Cue a round of “You don’t know your job, I want your name”.. I’ve had passengers think “Any permitted” tickets can take them anywhere in the country. Cuddington – Knutsford via Chester, Warrington and Manchester was one recently.

    The Mid-Cheshire line has a lot of groups travelling to Chester. I would suggest a discounted group ticket available on the day rather than advance tickets.

  7. Jen Says:

    Conductor, the Buxton line is under TfGM’s radar and gets extra capacity (sponsored by TfGM) and they want improved journeys times, the 07:17 Manchester-Chester seems to be off TfGM’s radar and they don’t seem to care about improving the very poor journey times. TfGM agreed with Northern to strengthen a number of services on Saturday 30th November including some on the Buxton line, while the Mid-Cheshire line didn’t get services strengthened and many passengers got left behind.

    Regarding Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme calls the arrival time at Manchester may not have officially changed but the Chester train usually used to get to Piccadilly before the Norwich-Liverpool train but with the Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme calls you usually see the EMT service overtake the Chester service. The extra calls also reduce the chance of late running being made up which can affect passengers connecting to other services. If the Mid-Cheshire line had 172s with wider doors and better acceleration then I imagine the longer dwell times wouldn’t have been required.

    The point I was making about rolling stock relates to whether the fare is good value or not, good value relates to what the product/service is not just the cost of the product/service. The cost of a Tesco Value product isn’t the same as the equivalent Tesco Finest product, if the prices were similar then the Tesco Value product would be poorer value for money. Likewise £10 for an hour on a Pacer is poorer value for money than £10 for an hour on a Sprinter on the same journey.

    Regarding Knutsford and tourists – Tatton Park is in the top 20 most visited attractions in the UK. Anyway the point I was making was people staying in Manchester overnight, one of the largest cities in the UK. I understand SOR tickets are usually available only for journeys over 50 miles but exceptions can be made as looks to have been the case for Buxton-Manchester.

    The issue I have with Group and Duo tickets is that if you’re not making exactly the same journey as other passengers then you have to buy the normal undiscounted tickets. For instance, 4 people meeting up in Chester may not all be travelling from the same station – you might have one from Knutsford, one from Plumley, one from Northwich and one from Frodsham and they all have to pay the standard return fares, yet a couple travelling together from Northwich get a ‘buy one get one half-price offer.’

  8. Edd Says:

    I’d agree about needing to do more to incentivise single travellers using the train for leisure purposes, rather than just people travelling together. An alternative to Advance tickets could be Super Off-Peak tickets.

  9. Jen Says:

    A Witton and Rudheath councillor has expressed concerns over how much it now costs to get to Chester and Manchester from Northwich: http://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/news/10934988.Councillor__worried__by_rail_fare_increase/

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