Merseyrail – the Single that’s much, much more! ….

Posted on March 23rd, 2011, by The Chairman


So’s everyone else!

In 2010 Merseyrail abolished their Off Peak (Cheap Day) tickets, introducing the Day Saver instead which is a Day Ranger/Rover valid from 0930. Thus, from Chester the Anytime Return to Liverpool is £6.45, but the Day Saver valid for all Wirral Line services as a “runabout” from 0930 is a great value £4.50 (£3.20 senior), not that you know this from the National Rail website as it doesn’t even show it as a fare option!

But the Day Saver has “Single” printed on it …. TWICE! This causes lots of confusion. I’ve seen passengers at James Street asking barrier staff why they were only given a single ticket when they paid for a return. The first time I used one, I waited until the end of the queue in case the barriers gobbled my ticket up – they didn’t.

If buying your ticket at Chester be careful of the ATMs (Automatic Ticket Machines). If you go to the machine and enter your destination as Liverpool, buying the Day Saver is not presented as an option, only the Anytime tickets via Birkenhead, or the more expensive “Any Reasonable Route” tickets which are also valid via Runcorn on the “Parliamentary” service and via Warrington. How many people are paying £2.05 more than they should be and also not getting the added value of the runabout? There are small notices sellotaped to each machine saying for Liverpool tickets after 0930 select destination “Northwirrallines”, but I bet many people don’t notice these. What are the “North Wirral Lines”?

If coming from the Mid Cheshire Line think about the option of buying a ticket to Chester, then a Merseyrail Day Saver from Chester, rather than a through ticket. This gives you the option of a run around the Wirral Lines as well as your trip to wherever you were going anyway. The only downside is if you miss the connection up the Mid Cheshire Line on the way back because Merseyrail is late (rare), you’ll not be entitled to any compensation, as you’ve two separate tickets. You can buy the tickets from our conductors, though many of them don’t know this! Ask them to look in their machine (AVantix) for a ticket from Chester to (all one word) Northwirrallines. No spaces, otherwise the machine won’t find it!

I asked Merseyrail at their big Corporate “bash” in January why they’ve done it this confusing way. They told me the ticket is selling very well, but agreed it was confusing and said they’d let me know. Despite a few prompts from me, I’ve still not heard the answer, only the suggestion that runabout tickets have to have a photocard, which I pointed out is not so for day tickets. I’ll give them another “prod” and let you know if I get a response.

Meanwhile, happy Day Saving. It’s great value!


It’s changed.

Merseyrail Rover

Remember when buying this to ask for or type in “NORTHWIRRALLINES” as the destination, i.e. not “Liverpool”, “Crosby”, West Kirby”, etc.

Apparently “NORTHWIRRALLINES” is short for “Northern and Wirral Lines” as it’s valid on both the Northern and Wirral Lines, something I hadn’t realised when writing the original post in 2011, but that couldn’t be used as it wouldn’t fit as a destination in the system.

It’s still great value, even now at £4.90. Happy travelling!

Please leave a comment

  1. Barry Doe Says:

    I also think a lot of the confusion arises because of the name Merseyrail. It’s the PTE’s name for its train services, but that scope is a lot larger than the TOC of the same name. So what is meant?

    It was worse in fact, because these Day Savers didn’t even used to be valid on all Merseyrail TOC services – they weren’t valid from Ormskirk for example, though they now are.

    But as you say ‘Northwirrallines’ complicates it even more as it’s an odd name written in an odd way.

    Merseyrail is a good TOC in many ways, but when it comes to marketing I’ve always felt they haven’t a clue. I’ve written about this before in RAIL but they’ve never responded or done anything about it. Most disappointing.

    This my text from RAIL 654 (October 2010)

    Merseyrail abolishes OP Day Returns

    I have respect for Merseyrail, enhanced by my love of Liverpool, Britain’s finest city. However its publicity can be appalling.

    In early September it abolished Off-Peak Day Returns in favour of more-expensive OP Day Savers that follow the London model of offering unlimited travel within zones. On its website it says it has ‘abolished Cheap Day Returns in favour of an all-day ticket’. The Cheap Day name disappeared some time back – and since when is after 0930 ‘all day’?

    However, they also left on their site a section explaining that returns are available for all journeys and that ‘OP Returns are cheaper than Anytime’. Would these abolished ‘Cheap Day Returns’ happen to be the very OP Returns which they say still exist?

    There have been OP zonal day tickets for years on Merseyside called Saveaways, giving unlimited travel on buses, trains and ferries. Nowhere does Merseyrail give the price of these.

    Turning to the PTE’s (Merseytravel) website, whilst they rightly applauded the award for Lime Street as the Station of the Year within a day of the National Rail Awards, they still make no mention of Merseyrail’s new OP Day Savers, several weeks after they started, though they do mention longer-period rail-only zonal tickets (Railpasses).

    I cannot but help think this disappointing and uncharacteristic lack of accuracy and co-operation is doing anything but confuse regular users.

  2. Edd Says:

    Stations in Merseyside have for a long time had the Merseyrail logo on them and diesel services out of Lime Street can be referred to as Merseyrail City Line services, which is where the Pacers that used to be Merseyrail branded were originally used.

    The third rail electric services were traditionally called ‘Merseyrail Electrics’ and this is the name MTL used after BR was split up. Arriva then used ‘Arriva Trains Merseyside.’ Serco/Abellio now use the operating name ‘Merseyrail’ even though they are officially registered as ‘Merseyrail Electrics 2002 Ltd’ which is what can easily cause confusion.

  3. Rail Officer Says:

    I purchased one of these tickets after reading the Blog – it saved me 50p from Ellesmere Port.

    My companion was confused seeing the ticket was stamped as a Single and felt sure that we would be stopped or the ticket swallowed by the machine before we could return, but the ticket worked!

  4. John Says:

    There is something very odd about the way Merseyrail (Electrics) issues tickets.

    Some of them bear the Maltese Cross after the origin/destination (which implies they are valid across London!).

    Flat fare tickets issued on Grand National Day sported the Transport for London roundel!

  5. tahira Says:

    Is there anyway to find out exactly which stations are covered by this journey. If you could let me know that would be highly appreciated. Thanks

  6. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Tahira!

    “Northwirrallines” covers all the stations served by Merseyrail’s Wirral Line, this is :
    – Birkenhead to West Kirby,
    – Birkenhead to New Brighton
    – Birkenhead to Hooton, and then on to Chester on one line, and to Ellesmere Port on the other, and
    – the Loop in Liverpool, that’s James St, Moorfields, Lime St and Central.

  7. Dave Almond Says:

    They are ripping me off. I have to travel to London quite frequently, often staying overnight. Living near Spital station I prefer to go to Chester and travel to and from London from there.
    There is no ‘anytime return’ ticket available (despite it being shown on their website).
    So a single is £4.20, thats £8.40 return because I have to come back the following day.

    Yet the website says £5.10 for an anytime return.
    Yet another way of squeezing more money out of the poor passenger my manipulating the ticket rules.


  8. Andrew Macfarlane Says:


    The £5.10 fare is an Anytime Day Return I’m afraid. There is no Anytime Return allowing return the following day.


  9. Jen Says:

    It’s a common issue on local train journeys in the North that a single is only very slightly cheaper than an off-peak day return, so if you want to return the next day you pay almost double what you pay to return the same day.

  10. The Chairman Says:

    I recently met the newish Press Officer at Merseyrail, Alice Owen and asked whether a response to this Blog post might be forthcoming.

    I’m delighted to say that it’s come!

    Here it is, and now I know what “NORTHWIRRALLINES” means!

    Dear Mr Oates,

    Thank you for your recent email, which was passed to this office by our Press Officer.

    I understand that you have an enquiry relating to our Day Saver ticket. Our Products Manager informs me that our self service ticket machines cannot issue Rover tickets and as the Day Saver is classed as a Rover type ticket, the only way that we could configure the machines to issue it, was to show it as a Single (SGL) ticket.

    However, we explain in all our literature and advertising that it is a ticket which is valid all day for unlimited off peak travel within Merseyside. In addition to this, all our staff explain the validity of the ticket to customers, when issuing the ticket to reduce the chance of confusion.

    He also advises me that because tickets can only show a certain number of characters on them – The Day Saver which shows Northern/Wirral lines – meaning its valid on our Northern and Wirral lines – is shortened to NorthWirrallines.

    There are currently no plans to alter the appearance or wording on the Day Saver tickets.

    Thank you for your taking the time to email and for the interest that you have shown.


    Debbie Hunter
    Customer Relations

    Thanks to both Debbie and Alice for this.

  11. East cheshire man Says:

    Would not a Merseyside saveaway be best (scratchcard type), ie for use on trains buses ferries price £4.80 be better value than a wirral lines day saver now priced £4.70 when I was sold one at Chester rail yesterday.This restricted me to train travel only within the said area.

  12. The Chairman Says:


    It’s changed. I’ve updated the post, above.

    Remember when buying this to ask for or type in “NORTHWIRRALLINES” as the destination, i.e. not “Liverpool”, “Crosby”, “West Kirby”, etc.

    Apparently “NORTHWIRRALLINES” is short for “Northern and Wirral Lines” as it’s valid on both the Northern and Wirral Lines, something I hadn’t realised when writing the original post in 2011, but that wording couldn’t be used as it wouldn’t fit as a destination in the system.

    It’s still great value, even now at £4.90. Happy travelling!

  13. sally buttifant Says:

    A really good value ticket!

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