Restrictions on the validity of off-peak tickets are to be extended from 8th September. Off-peak tickets and West Yorkshire day rovers will no longer be valid between 4pm and 6.30pm on weekdays.
The practical effect is for substantial fare increases for certain journeys, particularly for passengers who currently use cheap day returns outward after 9.30 returning between 4 & 6.30.
Northern Rail will probably be the target of most of the criticism, but this time it’s not their fault. Neither is it the fault of Metro or Transport for Greater Manchester.
None of them had a choice – the responsibility rests squarely with the Department for Transport who insisted on this as part of Northern Rail’s franchise extension. A bit of honesty on their part in stating openly that “some passengers in the North will face a big fare increase” might have been welcome.
Press release dated 11th August, from Metro, follows:
Evening Peak Restrictions introduced on Northern Rail Train Services
Northern Rail announces that from Monday 8 September off-peak tickets can no longer be used between 16:01 to 18:29 on weekdays.
This new restriction, which already exists in Merseyside, will apply to the company’s services in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. It means that from Monday 8 September, Off-Peak Day, West Yorkshire Train Day Rover, Family Day Rover and Day Rover tickets will no longer be valid on weekday services in West Yorkshire area and associated routes between 16.01 and 18.29.
English National Concessionary Travel Scheme pass-holders, who are currently entitled to a half-price, off-peak rail travel will be able to purchase a half-fare Anytime ticket during the evening peak period.
Northern has reached this agreement with the Department for Transport as part of its franchise agreement. The company says in its announcement that customers who currently use off-peak tickets during the evening peak will ‘either have to travel earlier or later, or buy an anytime ticket’. These restrictions will also apply to services between Leeds/Bradford and Skipton and Leeds and Knaresborough and those between Huddersfield and Leeds, where passengers can use either Northern or First TransPennine Express trains.
Northern’s Commercial Director, Richard Allan, said,
“The majority of customers who travel at peak times, such as those with season tickets, will be unaffected by these changes but we want to make sure that those who are, know about what is happening.”
“We have consulted extensively with local stakeholders and with Passenger Focus on the detail of this change, which is part of our new franchise agreement that was announced in March.”
Responding to Northern Rail’s announcement, a spokesperson for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said,
“While this agreement between Northern Rail and Department for Transport to introduce evening peak restrictions should mean more space on trains for commuters travelling home, it will inconvenience some people including West Yorkshire DayRover users.
“We have always maintained that funds raised from measures such as this should be ploughed back into the network and look forward to seeing details of how these new restrictions will lead to investment in new rolling stock to cater for the growing numbers of local train users.”
Details of the changes are available on the Northern Rail website and from station staff.
The Department for Transport requested Northern to consider this introduction of evening peak restrictions to off-peak day tickets as a way of reducing the cost to the taxpayer of the Northern franchise and generating extra revenue. Northern has said it expects around 70% of passengers travelling at this time, especially season ticket holders, will benefit with more space and seats available.