Countdown to Black Monday, 08 September 2014: Your Questions Answered

Everything you need to know about changes to evening peak fares this coming month

Class 153, Manchester Victoria, Platform 2
Another export from Workington: this stunning Class 153 which came from the same Lillyhall plant as your beloved Pacer unit in the previous article. Here’s the old roof, which is being dismantled and replaced by a new one. Paid for by yours truly, the squeezed commuter and even more squeezed casual traveller.

On hearing about the changes covered in our previous article, we at East of the M60 were aggrieved to say the least. Incensed because of the effects it would have on casual travellers. Fuming over this sanction being the most retrograde rail development in Greater Manchester since the arrival of the Class 142 Pacer unit.

So incensed we were by this, we decided to note down details of trains after 0930, before 1601 and after 1830. In spreadsheet format. For your very eyes. It even notes down rail alternatives, and some of these make for queasier reading than paying an extra £2.50 to go from Ashton-under-Lyne to Manchester Victoria by rail.

The spreadsheet entitled Quite a Scene at 6.30 is available for your perusal via Google Docs. It’s in, I suppose you could say, Beta mode, but it’s the content which matters more than the bells and whistles.

To accompany this document, it is best to answer a few questions on the swingeing rises to our train fares. Please note that the answers detailed below are a little biased towards the Transport for Greater Manchester area.

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(Soon to be) Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is travelling after 4pm being made more expensive in Greater Manchester and other metropolitan areas of Northern England?

As part of Northern Rail’s franchise extension from the Department for Transport, it has been order to ‘maximise value for money’ for the UK’s taxpayers. In other words, shift more of the costs to the North of England’s rail users.

2. I wish to purchase a Greater Manchester Rail Ranger or any of System One Travelcards’ Bus/Train, Tram/Train, Bus/Train/Tram day rover tickets. How is their validity affected?

At present, you can only purchase any of the above tickets after 0930. From the 08 September, they wont be valid on trains between 1601 – 1830. This does not affect validity on buses and trams, so if you were travelling to Rochdale or Ashton-under-Lyne, you could use the tram element of your Train/Tram ticket. Or, the bus element if you choose to catch the 17 or the 216 services from Shudehill Interchange and Piccadilly Gardens.

3. I’m a pensioner: how does this affect my concessionary pass?

You can still use your ENTCS pass on the trains between 1601 – 1830.

4. I have a Concessionary Plus pass: how does this affect my entitlement to free travel through Greater Manchester?

You can still use your ENTCS pass on the trains between 1601 – 1830, and before 0930 on all modes of transport throughout Greater Manchester.

5. What fares are going to be affected by the changes?

Any off-peak day single or day return fares within Greater Manchester. From the 08 September 2014, Off-Peak Day Singles and Off-Peak Day Returns will only be valid from 0930 to 1600 then 1830 till the last train. Off-peak singles and returns (which are valid for one calendar month) wont be affected owing to the distances these fares tend to cover.

6. What about weekends and Bank Holidays?

No restrictions: all off-peak day single and off-peak day return fares remain valid all day. Likewise with the GM Rail Ranger and System One Travelcards’ day rover tickets.

7. What about my Wayfarer ticket?

From the 08 September 2014, both TfGM’s and Derbyshire County Council’s Wayfarer tickets are going to offer better value for money. As of now, morning peak restrictions by rail remain in place, but the 1600 – 1830 window in Greater Manchester will not affect this ticket’s validity for the foreseeable future.

8. And season tickets?

No changes will be made to the validity of System One Travelcards’ CountyCard ticket. Likewise with Traincards and any rail season ticket purchased at staffed stations or online.

9. I wish to travel after 1830: what’s the cheapest way after 08 September 2014?

Off-peak day single and return fares will apply. But, the Evening Ranger and special Evening Return fares will be discontinued.

10. If my pre-1600 hours train is running late or cancelled, will I still be charged a premium if the train arrives after 1601?

Possibly not and hopefully not. Within the Fares Manuals seen at railway stations or on electronic ticket machines, there is reference to ‘easements’. Sometimes, they could give you the benefit of the doubt if the train is delayed for up to about 15 minutes or so. If this problem arises, and you happen to be boarding your train from a staffed station, go to the enquiry desk, ticket office window, or gently knock on the station master’s door.

11. I work part time, travel by train within Greater Manchester, though never use the train often enough to warrant a CountyCard or Traincard, and I finish work between 1601 and 1830. Would it be worth my while to opt for a CountyCard, Traincard or season ticket for my regular journey?

If you start work at 0900, you would already cop for the peak hour Anytime fares, so no changes till January 2015’s raft of fare rises. Supposing you start outside the peaks, say at 1200 hours and finish at 1730, you could use the last hour of the evening peak to pursue other interests. Or do some shopping and spend the difference elsewhere.

If you use more than one mode (say you catch a bus or tram to your railway station), see if it is possible to seek alternative means (or maximise usage of) your existing bus or tram season ticket.

At present, in Greater Manchester and most parts of the United Kingdom, there is little or no incentive for part time employees to use public transport on a regular basis. Before 2004, we had ClipperCards and SaverStrips which rewarded more sporadic bus users in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire respectively. By next year, TfGM’s Get Me There pass aims to bridge that gap with a Mancunian Oyster-style card.

12. Will this affect Northern Rail services only, or will it affect other rail franchises within the Greater Manchester boundary?

On journeys within Greater Manchester, most fares are set by Transport for Greater Manchester or Northern Rail. For instance, a journey from Stalybridge to Wigan North Western may be set by TfGM, but the passenger may use more than one franchisee’s trains (Northern Rail and First/Keolis Transpennine Express in this case). Therefore, restrictions will be in place within other franchisee’s services in Greater Manchester.

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Any More Questions?

Wish to add to our dozen questions? Or would you like to answer our twelve questions? Feel free to comment, update, correct or clarify.

Oh, and don’t forget to look at the spreadsheet to see how your local (Greater Manchester) station is affected.

S.V., 14 August 2014.

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4 thoughts on “Countdown to Black Monday, 08 September 2014: Your Questions Answered

Add yours

  1. Hi Stuart, from a West Yorkshire point of view this will add significant amounts to the cost of day return fares, I think it’ll add something like £2 to the cheap day return between Leeds and Halifax, the alternative bus (508) at best takes well over an hour between the edge of Leeds Centre and Halifax, with traffic problems it can be much longer. Their are 4 points in Leeds what cause gridlock throughout the city when things go wrong there, take the Armley Gyratory, closed tonight at the height of evening rush hour due to a flood meaning traiifc had to go through the city centre, with major cities suffering traffic problems like Leeds does, how they expect people to leave rail travel at evening peaks and take to the roads is beyond belief!

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  2. Stuart, there’s one thing about which I keep hearing folk commenting and it’s the price of car parking in Manchester. Maybe that might moderate any turning away from trains like you suggest. Here’s something showing prices: Parkopaedia,
    Manchester City Council.
    Some of the tariffs look quite high.

    Otherwise, thanks for compiling this because it could have passed by me if I hadn’t happened on your efforts. Losing cheap evening returns will be a comedown though any extra support for bus services has to be a good thing too.

    In summary, let’s see what happens before contemplating doomsday scenarios. So far, rising train fares amazingly have done little to dissipate demand and it really is extra capacity (and better trains) that we need.

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    1. Hello,

      Quoting from the Northern Rail website, it is stated that season ticket holders would have no problem. Obviously the bulk of them, regular travellers, would opt for a season ticket to avoid the worst of the peak hour fares and restrictions. It is also worth noting that season ticket holders on journeys within TfGM boundaries (for example, Bramhall to Manchester Piccadilly) benefit from unlimited rail travel within Greater Manchester – plus Glossop, Dinting and Hadfield stations – on weekends and Bank Holidays.

      It is funny you should mention parking. When I first worked in Manchester in 2003, I postponed any plans to continue the driving lessons I took till February 2002. I knew of the hellish parking rates in the centre. Even in 2008, full time rate at the NCP on Atwood Street (behind the Palace Theatre) was £14.00. Today, you can get an off-peak return from Blackpool North to Adlington for that price. In 2008, up to York from Huddersfield, with enough change for a coffee or a Daily Mirror en route.

      I too favour extra support for local bus services. Before the Tory-led Coalition Government was thought of, we lost a fair number of long distance limited stop cross-boundary bus routes that provided useful links. From Oldham, the 562 to Halifax; around your way, the X1 from Manchester to Derby (later split into three different routes). The 528 from Rochdale to Halifax is one of two subsidised services slated for withdrawal by Metro West Yorkshire in January 2015 (Ripponden to Littleborough via Blackstone Edge would be bus-less).

      (So to use the well worn cliché) Only time will tell.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  3. Looking at the information on National Rail Enquiries, it seems as if that, provided your journey starts before 1600, you may complete your journey on an off-peak ticket.

    For example, travel on the 1602 from Westhoughton to Manchester Piccadilly is shown to require an anytime ticket at £5.80. But buy a ticket on the same train from Hindley (from where the train leaves at 1558), and you only pay £4.10! So, if you are intending to travel just after 1600, check the last place the train calls before 1600, and buy your ticket from there instead!

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