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Train Company Online Ticketing Algorithms


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An unusual topic for discussion.

 

I've been having problems buying train tickets online - please bear with me.

 

Want day return tickets for 3 adults (including one TwoTogether Railcard) and 1 child between Edinburgh and Blackpool for the October half-term break (our grand daughter really wants to visit Blackpool Pleasure Beach). So far so good. 

 

Found great prices £42 out and £33.80 return - went away to check with Gabe (Mrs PO) that the date was OK and logging in a half hour later found that the return leg had become £187odd.

 

Left it until the next day. Captured £42 southbound journey, great. Return was down to £67. Split the group into two, adult and child were £18 (£12 + £6), and the TwoTogether adults £15.80, making it £33.80 in all, the original price quoted.

 

Bought the TwoTogether tix and went back for the adult and child tix which had risen to £36. Went back the next day, still the same price, but splitting the tix into 1 adult and 1 child was quoted £12 and £6. Bought the adult ticket for £12, but then the child ticket had risen to £12.

 

Waited until this morning and the child ticket was back to £6.

 

So, it's taken five days to get the best prices. Why are the train company online ticketing algorithms not offering me the best prices for all the tickets at the same time? Serious issue for those without much cash.

 

The sites used were EastCoast, Virgin, and TransPennine.

 

Mal

 

 

 

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Yield management is a science only partially understood by those who practise it, and completely obscure to the rest of us, I fear. It was difficult enough to comprehend in BR days, but with loadsa TOCs competing for sales and shares it is now off-the-scale complicated.

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Could this be affected by the 12 week rules on release of tickets due to NR only having to give max 12 weeks notice of possessions etc.

Hi black and decker boy

 

Was inside the 12-week zone!

 

Could understand if I was outside it - what puzzles me is the need to split the group into two pairs in the first place, then splitting one of the pairs into two separate journeys with the quoted price doubling when I return to buy a ticket immediately having bought the other one - and having to wait 24 hours before I get the originally quoted price.

I think there's some weird airline-style algorithm at work here.

 

£75.80 for a family of four day return Edinburgh-Blackpool is a great price, though.

 

Mal

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Yield management is a science only partially understood by those who practise it, and completely obscure to the rest of us, I fear. It was difficult enough to comprehend in BR days, but with loadsa TOCs competing for sales and shares it is now off-the-scale complicated.

Absolutely true and a similar problem occurs when you try to book flights.

 

You might find it useful clearing your cookies, browsing history etc before you return to a website for a second look. I have certainly had issues with flights that when I trawl for different prices and return to the best value, it has gone up in price, but usually if I pretend I am a different user (by doing as above) I can get the original price. I do not know if this works with UK rail ticketing sites.

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