A guide to LNER ‘Simpler Fares’
If you’re travelling between Edinburgh, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle and London on LNER, then your fares will soon be changing. LNER is introducing what they’re calling ‘Simpler Fares‘. Here’s our guide to this change, what it means for you and how you can ensure that you’re still purchasing the best-value ticket for your journey.
What are LNER ‘Simpler Fares’?
In a nutshell, Super Off-Peak fares are going to be abolished. The only fully flexible ticket that you’ll be able to buy is the Anytime fare, which is the most expensive option for a journey.
Instead, you’ll have a new option, called 70min Flex. You can use these tickets on the train that you choose, as well as any LNER departure 70 minutes on either side.
Advance tickets will remain the same. They’ll still only be valid on the train that you choose.
Where and when will LNER ‘Simpler Fares’ be introduced?
For now, as part of a trial period, this will only affect journeys between Edinburgh, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle and London Kings Cross. If you’re travelling to/from any other station, then your fare will stay the same.
This change will take place on January 16, 2024 for journeys after February 5, 2024. If you’re travelling before then, then your fare will also stay the same.
How do I use a ’70min Flex’ Ticket?
A ’70min Flex’ ticket is still an Advance ticket and you’ll still get a seat reservation for the train that you pick. It will cost £20 more than a ticket that’s just for the specific train that you choose (Railcard discounts also apply to this fee, so it will be £13.20 for most Railcard holders). This is a largely flat fee, though it has been reported that it can vary.
When you buy one of these tickets, you’ll also be able to use any LNER train to your destination that departs 70 minutes before or after the train that you pick. You must also arrive at your destination within three hours of your originally scheduled arrival.
So, what do you do if you want to take a different train? In a nutshell, nothing. There’s no need to rebook. If you want, you can book a new seat through the LNER app or by visiting a ticket office. However, it’s possible to jump on board and find any unreserved seat. On LNER, those seats are in the ‘south’ end of Coach C (seats 1 to 43).
As these tickets are Advance tickets, they aren’t normally refundable. If you book with Railsmartr, you’ll be able to change them to another date or time without any extra fees – only the difference.
I still want to use a Super Off-Peak ticket, what can I do?
As this trial is only for the stations mentioned above, it’s possible to buy a ticket to a different station if you want to buy a Super Off-Peak ticket. For example, you could buy a ticket to/from Haymarket instead of Edinburgh, Manors or MetroCentre instead of Newcastle or Finsbury Park instead of London Kings Cross.
If you choose to do this, you should bear in mind that not all tickets can be sold as eTickets and that the price of the ticket may be higher. However, this is the easiest way to keep buying Super Off-Peak tickets.
You should also remember that if the trial is deemed to be successful, then it’s likely that these options will also disappear.
What will these mean for the cost of train tickets?
At the moment, it’s difficult to tell what LNER ‘Simpler Fares’ could mean for the cost of travelling. However, this is a move towards what we call ‘demand-based pricing’. If a train is always busy, then it can be more expensive. If it’s quieter, then you might find a cheaper fare.
Under the old system, the Super Off-Peak fare was effectively a ‘cap’ on the cost of a ticket, even at the busiest times such as Sunday afternoons. Under the ‘Simpler Fares’, traditionally Off-Peak times that are busier are likely to become more expensive. As the only ‘cap’ now is the Anytime fare, this could represent a significant increase.
So, what if I want a cheaper fare?
In the meantime, you can buy Super Off-Peak tickets to and from alternative stations. There’s no obligation to use them for the whole journey, so you can start and finish your journey at the same station that you usually would.
We’ve recently launched Split Tickets, too. This allows us to find the cheapest combination of tickets for your journey. As we’ve based our initial launch on the most popular journeys across Great Britain, most (if not all!) stations on the LNER network are covered. Just keep an eye out for ‘Split Single‘ when you search for a journey:
All you need to do is select the Split tickets option and we’ll do the rest. You’ll get all of your tickets in one handy email or you can collect them from the ticket machine.
Is there anything else I should know?
We know that the world of train tickets can be confusing, especially when brand-new products are added. Don’t worry though, we’re always here to keep things simple at Railsmartr. With us, you’ll always be able to travel smarter. Why not take a look at our selection of Expert Tips to make your next journey that little bit better?
Of course, fares might be changing, but one thing will never change. When you book with us, there’ll never be any extra fees. Even if you just change your mind, you can always refund or change your ticket (depending on the ticket type) without any extra fees or charges. You’ll only ever pay the difference.