Flexible rail fares to be trialled

As rail fares rise by 2.7% on average, the Government has announced a trial and possible further trials of flexible fares for part-time workers.



The Government has announced a trial of flexible rail fares over the next year.

A new fares trial on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will, for instance, provide part-time workers on certain routes with ‘better value tickets’.

The government says it will also set up a new ‘fares trials fund’ to pay for further trials this year across the country.

Reforms of the rail system will be set out in a white paper this year.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “This government will improve the railway system to ensure the focus is always on putting passengers first. This commitment begins with the launch of innovative fares trials, to help explore the benefits and costs of a clearer, more flexible and fairer fares system.”

The announcement of GTR trials coincides with the start of trials on LNER today, which mean passengers can purchase cheaper single-leg off-peak tickets on services from London to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Previously a passenger travelling between London and Edinburgh purchasing a ticket at the station would have paid £150.50 for a Super Off-Peak Single ticket or £151.50 for a Super Off-Peak Return ticket from 2 January. Under this trial, the cost of a Super Off-Peak Single is now £75.75.

The rail network was at the centre of the general election campaign, amid passenger dissatisfaction over service in various parts of the country in 2019 and with Labour calling for nationalisation of the railways. The announcement about flexible fare trials comes as the average fare rose by 2.7% in 2020, with some long-distance commuters seeing the annual cost of getting to work increase by more than £100. This is despite fewer than two-thirds of trains being on time last year.

Fewer than half (47%) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to the latest survey by watchdog Transport Focus.

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