Avanti West Coast is offering new ‘Superfare’ with fares to London from between £12 and £22
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Avanti West Coast is trialling a new ultra-low-cost ticketing scheme with fares between London and the biggest cities on its route for less than £22.
In a bid to buck the trend of soaring train fares and coax passengers back from coaches, the rail operator is offering “Superfare” tickets between Euston and Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston for between £12 and £22 one-way.
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But there is one catch: you must be flexible about the time you wish to travel.
How does it work?
It’s essentially about filling empty seats that may not otherwise be sold — seats Avanti now puts on “standby”.
“We match you to an empty seat,” Avanti promises. “You get a bargain Superfare ticket on a fast and comfy Avanti West Coast train.”
You’ll need to book your seat at least seven days in advance and up to 21 days before travel.
To qualify for the deal, you cannot choose the exact time at which you want to travel. Rather, you must select a morning, afternoon or evening travel window.
Then, 24 hours before you depart, Avanti will let you know which train you’ve been assigned to and send you your ticket.
Where can I go, and how much is it?
There are four routes available with the scheme, at varying costs*:
- London Euston to/from Birmingham: £12
- London Euston to/from Liverpool: £15
- London Euston to/from Manchester: £20
- London Euston to/from Preston: £22
*all prices are for single tickets, in either direction.
Normally, a standard advance single from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly costs £40, while one to Liverpool Lime Street is £39 and one to Preston is £37.
However, while a standard advance single From Euston to Birmingham with Avanti costs £16, passengers who choose to travel with West Midlands Trains can pay as little as £8 for the hour-and-a-half trip — £4 less than Avanti’s Superfare (West Midlands Trains only run as far as Birmingham from London).
How are the ‘departure windows’ worked out?
If you pick a morning, the earliest you may have to travel is 7 a.m., while the latest evening train would depart at 11 p.m. and arrive in the early hours.
The windows are classed as follows:
- Morning: 7 a.m. to 11.59 a.m.
- Afternoon: Midday to 4.59 p.m.
- Evening: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Are there any dates I cannot use a Superfare?
Yes. Avanti has reserved a number of so-called “blackout dates” on which the special fares will not be valid.
This includes the Easter weekend (6-11 April) and the three days leading up to the early May bank holiday (28-30 April).
For a full list of “blackout days”, see the full T&Cs on Avanti’s website.
Any more strings attached?
Yes. There are several caveats in the small print, chiefly:
- The trial lasts until 30 April 2023, so prices are set only until that date.
- All tickets are subject to availability.
- You must travel on the train on which you’re booked for the entire route (no getting off early to change trains, for example).
- You can buy up to nine tickets per booking, but Avanti says it cannot guarantee that all seats will be together.
- You cannot use railcards or child discounts to bring the price down further.
- Superfare tickets do not count towards Club Avanti rewards.
How do I book?
You cannot book Superfare tickets by the usual means. Instead, you must visit the scheme’s dedicated website: www.avantisuperfare.co.uk.
Then, follow the steps as described above.
Why is Avanti offering this ticket now?
The deal comes at a time when the conversation around train ticket prices intensifies, with critics claiming that many ordinary travellers are beginning to be priced out of rail travel by soaring fares.
Train chiefs fear a customer exodus towards more affordable modes of transport, like coaches. While coaches typically take twice as long as trains to reach their destinations, they also tend to be half the price or less — a tradeoff many travellers are increasingly willing to take.
As mentioned above, a standard advance ticket from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly costs £40 (subject to availability), and takes two hours. On the other hand, a National Express coach from London Victoria to Manchester coach station starts at £8.90 and takes around four and a half hours.
This, then, is being viewed as an attempt to lure those travellers back to the railway while avoiding losing the people still willing to pay for a specific train under the current Advance ticket system.
Sarah Copley, Executive Director for Commercial at Avanti, said: “We want to give our customers more cost-effective ticketing options in an innovative way when travelling with us, as well as encouraging more people to take the train.”
FEATURED IMAGE COURTESY OF AVANTI WEST COAST.
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