Dec 17, 2008

Personal Observation : A Better Railway Service in England

A3 Speech, Rebecca Chou

Traveling by train probably is a common experience we all had before, and we all knew the origin of this transportation started from England because of the industrial revolution. As our railway company suffers from big losses, it would be a good idea to learn something from other countries. Since I have stayed in England for a while, I’d like to share my observation with you and hopefully provide another option to improve our service.


Besides the difference of territory and population, the Railway UK has three unique marketing strategies to attract customers.


First, they provide special offers to different groups of people. People aged over 60 are free to take any trains. For young people from 16 to 26 or full time students, there is a youth railcard for them. Once they spend 20 pounds for this card, they can buy tickets with only one third of the original price at anytime within a year. With a group of four people, the price will be paid for only two when you buy the round-way/return tickets. Traveling at off-peak time can save you money if you don’t belong to any of the above groups.


The best part is that if you buy tickets in advance, you can pay less. Early-bird discount is beyond your expectation. I decided to go to London last Christmas and the price of return ticket went up from 32 pounds to 59 pounds within one week. Of course I paid 59 so I learnt how to save money for following journeys. Normally the price is 24 pounds but when it’s bank or national holiday, the price will be higher because cheaper tickets are longer available. Because of this system, the railway company can make sure the capacity beforehand and make the best arrangement for all passengers especially when the number is increasing, more cars will be needed. This assures the efficiency of their service and reduces unnecessary cost, such as, ticket refund.


Second, they have online booking service accessible for everyone. You can book ticket at anytime you want. Our system is scheduled for two-week term and is opened only from 6am to 9pm everyday but they can buy tickets within six weeks from today at anytime, anywhere because the system will send the ticket to their houses. But we have to book the return ticket separately. They have to pay online but with one booking procedure, they can get return ticket. Let’s see the website now and I’ll show you how easy it works to book tickets online.

Choose your location and destination and then the preferred date and time. Don’t forget to book your ticket earlier to enjoy discount. Make sure the station names are correct otherwise you will go to somewhere you don’t want to go. For example, there are six zones in London so it’s better to find the closer one to save your time. After that, you will see different routes showing you can take direct train or take two or more than two transitions. It depends on your time allowance. Sometimes you will wait more than one hour for the next train. If you don’t want to be late, you need to check it very carefully.


Then, press a button “check fares” and it will show you the price. The more the transition stops, the less you have to pay. Press another one “go” and it leads you to the purchasing page. Log in your email address and password or register as a newcomer and give them your postcode and search for your address and it’s done. Just give them your credit card number then you can wait for your mail.


Third, they have strategic alliance with different industry offering a whole package of service. The Plusbus project gives you a chance to buy the railway tickets with an extra little money for the day pass bus ticket. If you go to London with a person, you can show the tickets and spend less for museum admission fee, delicious meal or theater ticket.


Taiwan Railway Company is facing strong competition with HSR and other public transportation; however, learning from other countries may be another solution. I don’t take trains very often in Taiwan but I definitely want to have more special offers as a customer. Therefore, it’s time for them to re-consider the pricing, booking system and promotional strategy.

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