It's Christmas, I want to go home to see my family. The media points out that there are terrible timetable delays to look forward to. I fear the \"turn up at Euston and not get a seat, or even get on the train, because of overcrowding\" scenario. I therefore try and make a seat reservation at www.virgintrains.com for travel tomorrow. I see things have changed, a new website design with a new fare matrix.
Bottom line: it used to be possible to buy a saver return on the website which meant as long as you picked the outward day of travel, you could return on any subsequent day within a month of the outward journey date. Things have changed ...
A Half Saver Return is now offered, which basically means that you are pinned down to a return date too. The added benefit of a £5 penalty to change this date comes for free. If anyone from Virgin ever reads this, then let me tell you: YOU ARE #£*&!
I can understand fare increases, over-inflated as they are, but the constant reduction in ease of travel is a disgrace. The train system of this country is not RyanAir; it is a public service for the population to travel around the country for business, pleasure and family reunions. It should be easy to use, flexible and affordable. Tying people down to deciding on times and days of travels weeks ahead of time is not on. Things happen: the Underground fails to get people to mainline train stations on a daily basis, MerseyTravel staff go on strike, the Liverpool tunnels close unexpectedly for maintenance. It is virtually impossible to ensure you can get to Euston for any set time without either hiring a taxi or getting there hours in advance. I suppose this is an argument against the penalty for missing an Advance ticket booking, but the decrement of the availability to buy full saver returns on the website hints that eventually all tickets will be in the discount airline style. That is, unless you can afford the high-priced Open tickets.
I have previously written to two Department of Transport secretaries on ticketing issues and they have both said that only the saver and open return tickets are regulated. Please regulate that they are available on the website to purchase, or please get rid of Virgin.