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Unread 20-04-2011, 16:03   #1
Mark Gleeson
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Default Irish Rail Web Fare Policy

So Irish Rail changed the system recently and well for some people it has been a negative for others a positive

Some guidance

Quote:
New System
  • 10 euro seats are available on EVERY single intercity service on EVERY route including Dublin Belfast
  • Each train has a quota of 10 euro seats (and the quota is a number greater than 1)
  • When the quota is exhausted the fare increases in stages to 15/20/25 euro etc
  • If you book on the same day as you are traveling you pay the standard web fare (half the cash return fare for a single)
  • If you book ahead you most likely will be able to find a 10 euro seat on the train of your choice
  • 10 euro fares are available even on the busiest trains, but obviously will sell out

Old System
  • A fixed price applied to each train this was static and not based on seats sold
  • Irish Rail's marketing department set the fare on each train based on a guess of demand with the goal to fill all seats
  • Trains known to be quiet had 10 euro fares while busy trains e.g 17:00 Dublin Cork was full price (36 euro)
  • No benefit in booking ahead
  • Numerous complaints from passengers of being charged full fare on empty trains
  • 10 euro fares all but impossible to find on Dublin Kerry and Dublin Belfast routes
  • Occasional price cuts on some trains as the date of travel approached causing much frustration if you had already booked

Tips
  • Bookings can be made between 28 days and 90 minutes ahead of the trains departure time from its terminus
  • Book as far ahead as you can
  • Avoid peak hour service to get the lowest fare
  • Book all seats together don't book 4 separately
  • Use the check fare button at the bottom of the page not the euro icon in next to the train. The euro icon button is known to show the wrong as in higher fare
  • If you are an O2 customer avail of the 15% discount through the O2 treats scheme
  • Pay by Laser or Visa Debit
  • Tickets can be collected from any Irish Rail ticket machine (it doesn't have to be same one as you select during the booking)

Last edited by Mark Gleeson : 13-05-2011 at 11:11.
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Unread 20-04-2011, 20:46   #2
econgirl
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Great to see this change - well done Irish rail! Was always getting stung for the full €29 fare from Limerick-Dublin at 5pm on a Friday. Although I booked a ticket for tomorrow two weeks ago for €29 and I saw yesterday, cheaper tickets were now available due to the new system! Ah well, at least it shouldn't happen anymore!
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Unread 26-04-2011, 12:57   #3
comcor
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The new system seems to make a mockery of the first class ticket prices.

Seeing that the first class return supplement from Dublin to Cork and vice versa is E54, it automatically becomes cheaper to buy a web fare and get the supplement. This even applies if you book the most expensive web fare possible.

Is there any intention to bring in similar demand-based pricing in First Class (not that I'm a regular 1st class traveller!).
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Unread 26-04-2011, 13:30   #4
Mark Gleeson
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As far as I'm aware you cannot upgrade from a standard class reservation to first class

If you can it is the full price of the first class ticket less what your ticket is. Before web fares the complex matrix ensured that ticket+fixed supplement = first class

There is no intention to offer discounts on first class. Though I could see discounts myself in the future as a way to free up some standard class seats on weekends
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Unread 26-04-2011, 13:51   #5
Eddie
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I'd be interested to see the small print that says you can't do this. An upgrade is an upgrade.

The problem is that you are blocking a bookable seat in standard class if you move to first class. If I booked on a €10 standard class ticket and before travelling found the carriage booked out, I'd be very tempted to book a first class upgrade because it can be quite awkward to move around in a full standard class carriage.

In the UK, first class upgrades are (or certainly used to be) available on trains at weekends from all ticket ticket types, and discounted first class tickets are made available off peak and I don't see the sense in not replicating this, and having empty first class carriages. Either way, as an upgraded first class passenger, you were still entitled to the complimentary snacks that came with first class, rewarding the savvy early booker / upgrader.

Last edited by Eddie : 26-04-2011 at 18:10.
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Unread 27-04-2011, 10:45   #6
Thomas J Stamp
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i tried this today for sunday. no discount. 44 for me, 22 each for the lads.

seeing as its a massive €20 for petrol and €4 for the toll, you can probably guess how i am going to the match on sunday.
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Unread 27-04-2011, 17:55   #7
Thomas Ralph
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You are not supposed to buy upgrades from web fares (nor can you buy upgrades from advances in the UK in general, except on certain train operating companies on weekends).

http://www.irishrail.ie/your_ticket/fares_enquiries.asp says
Quote:
These fares are standard class fares only and are not applicable in conjunction with premier class travel when making a booking. These promotional fares are not available at a booking office - full single fare will apply.
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Unread 28-04-2011, 07:52   #8
quartz
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It would be great if you could book more than one journey on the same transaction. This is the case in the UK.
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Unread 28-04-2011, 10:46   #9
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Now all we need is a proper excess policy explaining what the surcharge is to use your ticket on a train other than the one booked.
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Unread 01-05-2011, 21:36   #10
sean
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson View Post
So Irish Rail changed the system recently and well for some people it has been a negative for others a positive

Some guidance
Ok, a few observations:
  1. Nothing wrong with pricing based on projected demand, IMHO, as what I consider THE best example of fares policy anywhere, New Yorks Metro North Railroad, has used such a system very effectively for decades
  2. I don't see the point in selling €10 seats on any known busy train. I just don't - it seems like a waste of money.
  3. The situation is still a mess in Longford!
  4. There seems to be no effort to promote regional travel (i.e. travel not involving Dublin city on Dublin-elsewhere IC trains). Again, this is another thing Irish Rail could rip off wholesale from Metro North RR.

I played around with the system today on the Sligo line, there are very few 10 euro fares around, starting in Longford you STILL cannot use the booking system - even though Longford has a TVM with a "collect pre-booked tickets" option (and I know this because I just took a train to Longford today). I also know that this TVM has been there for a very long time so Irish Rail has no excuse.

You can get web fares going from Connolly or Sligo, and while for Connolly-Sligo travel it seems alright, with most fares being €22 each way, it's the same €22 to go Connolly-Longford. I just checked a fare for Sligo to Longford and that would be €20.30 ...

Way to go Irish Rail!

So from where I am standing a few things need to happen:
1) The situation WRT Longford needs to be examined very carefully, with a view to some prompt action.
2) It would be fine by me if borrowed the Metro North RR forumla for train pricing - i.e. anything arriving in Dublin City before 10AM, and anything leaving Dublin between 4PM and 8PM is a Peak fare, whereas EVERYTHING esle is discounted Off Peak.
3) Regional travel on Dublin bound trains needs to be encouraged, some combinations I was playing around with today should be made MUCH cheaper.
By that I mean things like Charleville-Portlaoise (same price as Charleville-Dublin) and Sligo-Longford (almost the same price as Sligo-Dublin) should be discounted massively, as this kind of travel is very efficient - one seat can be occupied by two passengers in this fashion during a single service run.

Again, my views in point 3 are backed by practice on the Metro North Railroad, travel on it not involving New York City is super-cheap, even in peak times, given the inherent efficiency of same.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 11:39   #11
Colm Moore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sean View Post
[*]I don't see the point in selling €10 seats on any known busy train. I just don't - it seems like a waste of money.
I've thought about this and the only explanation I can come up with is (a) there are few of these tickets (b) they use it for service planning, e.g. if all the seats on a Sunday morning are sold out 28 days in advance, that is a heads-up that there is a large event that day that might merit extra capacity. Given the fleet constraints for the next few months, availing of such changes is limited to off-peak periods.

Quote:
3) Regional travel on Dublin bound trains needs to be encouraged, some combinations I was playing around with today should be made MUCH cheaper.

By that I mean things like Charleville-Portlaoise (same price as Charleville-Dublin) and Sligo-Longford (almost the same price as Sligo-Dublin) should be discounted massively, as this kind of travel is very efficient - one seat can be occupied by two passengers in this fashion during a single service run.
Not many of these journeys exist. Most (longer) journeys are for commuting (work/study) or business of some kind.

The pattern tends to follow the urban hierarchy. For example, Charleville is a smallish town, it can provide a certain level of employment and services (shops, medical, professional services, pubs & restaurants, etc.). Those services it can't provide, e.g. higher-level retail or hospital-level minor surgery, the people go to Mallow. For higher levels again, e.g. choice of department stores, third level education or complicated surgery, the people can go to Cork or Limerick. For very high level services, e.g. boutique shopping or a liver transplant they travel to Dublin or even London.

However, someone from Charleville is unlikely to go to Galway or Waterford as neither location has many services that either Cork or Limerick don't have, both of which are much closer and much more accessible. However, they may travel to Galway or Waterford if they have a specific reason, e.g. niche business, visiting family/friends or tourism.

This also works for employment and study - people tend to work/study relatively close to where they live in the profession they have chosen - people from Charleville don't go to Sligo or Letterkenny IT to do Business Studies, as it is available in Cork, Limerick or Tralee and many other places in between. However, if there is only one location in the country that provides a course, then yes, they may travel there

So, given that Portlaoise is much smaller than Galway or Waterford, nevermind Cork/Limerick/Dublin, the number of trips is fewer, as there are few things in Portlaoise that aren't available somewhere closer. However, if say you were a railway engineer / mechanic or a prison officer from Charleville, then travelling to Port Laoise for the railway works or prisons does make sense. In reverse, if you are in the dairy industry, travelling to Charleville might make sense, but those are very niche industries.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 11:55   #12
Thomas J Stamp
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i had some fun with this today. I had a check what the price is for may 22nd Templemore to Dublin and back, myself and two children. I am actually trying to check for the following week as there is a match on, but it cannot do that.

outbound - €10 for me, €5 each for the kids = €20 happy days.

homeward bound : 1825 train is €10 for me, €5 each for the kids and that is good too. however, the chances of getting from either parnell park or croke park to heuston in that time are zilch as the match will be over at around 5.30 -5.45.

on the 1925 train the prices are €29 and €14.50 each = €58, making a total of €78.

full price tickets are €88 return.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 12:35   #13
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I was going to say a family ticket would only run to €65.50, but I think they don't do those on Sundays. Or on gah match days. Or both.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 12:40   #14
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Forgetting about Port Laoise and Charleville for the time being, there must be some flexibility to stimulate demand on a route like Cork-Limerick

In general trains trains to and from Dublin shed passengers when they are further from Dublin. There are a few exceptions like the 17:30 and 18:30 from Cork to Dublin, which can be busy with commuters to Mallow, but these are exceptions, not the rule.

Knowing that trains will operate well below capacity, there's no reason not to heavily discount them to get people onboard.

And between Cork and Limerick, there is significant travel. The traffic volumes on the N20 and the frequency of bus service show that. There's fairly significant business links and going back to students, there are a number of courses in each university that are not available at the other (e.g. no Dentistry at UL, no Mechanical Engineering at UCC).

At the moment, almost all public transport between the two cities is by either the Bus Eireann or Citylink bus services, but it doesn't necessarily have to be like that. The train can allow the route to be done in 1 hour 25 mins, comfortably faster than the 1 hour 45 offered by the two bus services.

Of course, timetable changes meaning a huge wait at Limerick Junction mean that there's only one train a day in each direction that comes close to that time, but that's not really the point here. The real point is that with spare capacity around, there's no reason Cork-Limerick should cost more than Cork-Dublin.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 13:24   #15
Mark Gleeson
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There is something amiss with Cork/Mallow/Chareville to Limerick its not quoting the discounts at the moment, inquiries underway with Irish Rail to see if this a bug or policy

Mallow Thurles does offer the 10 euro discount which is correct

The system allows rebooking of the same seat multiple times during a journey so depending on the free seats for the journey you are making you get the discount

So if there are 20 seats at 10 euro (not saying there are) 25 tickets sold 10 get out at Thurles, there is now 5 seats at 10 euro available from Thurles onwards

Last edited by Mark Gleeson : 03-05-2011 at 13:55.
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Unread 03-05-2011, 14:38   #16
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Appears to be no discounted fares offered at all for Limerick-Kerry. Instead its a very pricey 48 euro for any train.....

I'm able to get the 24 euro student fare which is acceptable, and in summer the train beats the bus despite the slightly longer journey because of the manic traffic in Adare/Newcastle West and the sweltering heat on the bus, as I often have business to attend to in Tralee/Killarney
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Unread 03-05-2011, 21:16   #17
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Is the system dynamic like the airlines, ie if €10 tickets are sold out quickly for a particular train, but next level goes very slowly, will it revert back to €10 to stimulate demand again?
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Unread 03-05-2011, 21:36   #18
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Speed of sale has no impact, once the allocation of 10 euro (or 1 euro in the case of Galway) is sold out the price goes up until that allocation is sold out and it goes up again

The advice is simple book as far ahead as possible and travel off peak.

Kerry line to Limerick has always been a strange one as the fares are quite cheap by distance at the Tralee end. We are waiting for Irish Rail to report back as to the Limerick issue raised earlier. We have made proposals to Irish Rail to produce an any to any fare system which would automatically ensure the lowest fare regardless of the date/time of day and any discounts in force
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Unread 04-05-2011, 08:45   #19
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Family tickets are likely to make an appearance on the booking system in coming months, basically if you have the right combination of adults and children it will apply the family fare if it is lower, thats the rumour might take a lot longer

In the past there is no way on earth you could get a 10 euro on any afternoon departure off Heuston
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Unread 07-05-2011, 08:51   #20
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I really don't believe they are available on *every* train. For example I tried booking at midnight on Friday morning for Thursday 2nd June (exactly 28 days - i.e. I could not book any earlier) from Limk - Dublin for the 6pm train and the fare was full price €29.00. Most of the other times were discounted alright, which is great but I don't see how €10 fares could have been available on the above when I booked it as soon as I could have?? Maybe I'm just doing something stupid!
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