die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and cushion time

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Booking early for long distance travel on some British train routes may allow people to travel more economically, as Rory Sutherland recounted. He bought a first class Advance return to Manchester for about a quarter of the £400 it costs for a fully flexible return — and for less than it costs to buy an off-peak second-class return.

The risk is that if you miss your train, you have to pay the full price for a replacement ticket and all the money you have paid for the Advance ticket is forfeited. This prospect understandably frightens my inner Calvinist. So unless you live within walking distance, you need to set off insanely early in order to leave a large margin for error. I duly arrived 48 minutes before my train was due to leave. This meant two Virgin trains to Manchester left half-empty before I was allowed to board the 10.20 a.m. train I had booked. I spent the intervening time unproductively mooching around Euston.

With cheaper advance purchase, tickets tend to be valid for a specific train. The drawbacks are the inability to change travel plans, and the cushion needed for variability in the duration of the local leg. Mr Sutherland’s idea is a mobile app to reduce cushion time, to enable early station arrivers to travel, seats permitting, on an earlier train. The train operator would also benefit, from additional revenue in the re-booking and / or resale of the later seat.

Many people on intercity trains are leisure travellers, so it’s a viable idea. However, the need for cushions in apex travel is a reminder that in-vehicle time, the USP of HS2, is of limited relevance to a large segment of the travel market.


Written by beleben

November 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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