Manchester to London in just over two hours for only £20: that is the new offer from Avanti West Coast to passengers who are not fussed about when exactly they travel.
The intercity operator is trialling a limited number of “Superfare” tickets aimed at filling key departures on the west coast main line to and from London Euston.
“We match you to an empty seat,” Avanti promises. “You get a bargain Superfare ticket on a fast and comfy Avanti West Coast train.”
But it comes with strings attached.
Passengers who sign up for Superfare tickets through a dedicated website can choose only between morning, afternoon and evening on the intended day of travel.
They must book between one and three weeks ahead and are told the exact departure time a day in advance.
The morning slot could be as early as 7am, while the afternoon is classified as 12 noon to 4.59pm. The evening span from 5pm to 11pm could mean arriving in the early hours.
The deal, saving a theoretical £164 on the intercity link from Manchester to the capital, is also available links from Preston, Liverpool and Birmingham to London. One-way fares are:
- Birmingham £12
- Liverpool £15
- Manchester £20
- Preston £22
Superfare tickets cannot be used for partial journeys, for example from Stockport to London or from Preston to Milton Keynes.
“Black-out” dates on the Avanti West Coast Superfare deal include the Easter weekend.
Railcard and child discounts do not apply, but Delay Repay compensation will be paid if appropriate.
The promotion is aimed at luring passengers who currently use long-distance coaches while avoiding “cannibalizing” travelers who are happy to pay for a specific train under the existing Advance ticket arrangements.
Flixbus, Mega bus and National Express usually offer lower fares than Avanti West Coast but journeys typically take twice as long.
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 traveling with us, as well as encouraging more people to take the train.”
The Avanti West Coast deal emulates a similar low-cost ticket promotion by Eurostar, known as “Snap”.
The Channel Tunnel train operator offered a choice of morning or afternoon/evening departures linking London with Paris and Brussels for as little as £19. The concept is not available at present while post-Brexit capacity limits apply to Eurostar trains.