Northern Fares: Still Fairly Unfair?

Not so long ago a HADRAG member starting in Halifax needed to spend the morning in Selby before travelling to Todmorden for an evening of singing. The off-peak day return from Halifax to Selby is £17.20, but for travel before 0930 the price goes up to £19.90. By coincidence if you were in London the same £17.20 would buy an Anytime Day Travelcard Zones 1-6; that is a ticket valid throughout Greater London, all day on train and Tube not to mention bus and tram. For off-peak travel the day Travelcard costs just £12.10. On an Oyster smartcard the effective price comes down to £11.80 – that’s Anytime not Off-peak. (Fares quoted are 2016 rates from National Rail/TfL online 15/12/15.)

Our Halifax rail user had to go to Todmorden after his morning in Selby. So to save money he bought a single from Halifax to Micklefield (the WY boundary) to travel in the morning peak (£5.40), plus a day return Micklefield-Selby (£6.20), plus a WY train+bus day rover (£7.90) to complete the day’s travel (skilfully avoiding the teatime-peak trap on the Tod trip!). Total £19.50 – less than the peak-time return just for Halifax-Selby and still more than a day’s travel in London. So who says fares are cheaper in the North?

Note that fares within West Yorkshire are cheaper than outside the boundary. But anomalies remain. Remember our good news story a year ago about fares from upper Calderdale to Huddersfield being reduced? After reminders from HADRAG, Northern has dealt with further anomalies so Halifax-Huddersfield is now actually a bit cheaper than the longer journey from Sowerby Bridge. But Halifax-Huddersfield (£4.70 anytime return, £4.30 off-peak or £3.10 one-way) is still quite a bit more than Halifax-Bradford (£3.90, £3.60 or £2.70). The higher fares are for a journey of little greater distance, but half as fast and with a quarter of the service frequency. Forgive the pun, but fares fair? We think not.

We can’t wait for smart ticketing London-style across Rail North. But let’s hope we get the fare deals – and fair deals – to match.

Header image attribution: flickr photo by underclasscameraman shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

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