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Admin fees on advance rail tickets temporarily scrapped

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The government confirmed it is temporarily scrapping administration fees on advance rail tickets for passengers who need to rebook as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Advance rail tickets are non-regulated, meaning they aren’t generally overseen by the government.

Instead prices are set by train companies, and passengers can be charged up to £10 per ticket to make changes to advance rail tickets which can themselves be very cheap when booked further ahead for longer distance journeys.

However, the government has ‘stepped in’ as new Covid travel restrictions come into force in different parts of the country, in a bid to protect passengers who are more at risk of having to change their travel plans.

The government said it has worked closely with train operators to “build consumer confidence and support the industry”.

The new temporary measures will allow customers to claim discretionary rail travel vouchers or credit notes for unused advance tickets across Great Britain that are valid for up to a year.

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Covid has seen massive disruption to our way of life, and passengers buying Advance tickets should not be penalised for cancelling their travel plans to follow advice that can save lives.

“By temporarily scrapping these admin fees on advance tickets, and extending the time people have to re-book their journeys, we are ensuring that large numbers of rail passengers will not be left out of pocket.”

Independent rail retailers will also be able to temporarily waive the usual change of journey admin fee for advance tickets.

The government previously stepped in to permit advance ticket refunds at the outset of the pandemic, as well as removing administrative refund or change of journey charges from advance, off-peak, super off-peak or anytime tickets.

Independent watchdog, Transport Focus, said this move is more about flexibility rather than savings but could be significant if passengers don’t lose the original cost of their ticket.

It will enable passengers to continue to buy advance tickets from now on without fear of losing all their money if Covid restrictions change. Passengers are still able to make savings rather than feeling they have to choose more flexible tickets which are often more expensive.

Anthony Smith, chief executive, said: “Passengers will welcome this decision. It takes the risk out of booking ahead in the fast-changing coronavirus situation.

“Passengers can plan ahead for Christmas knowing that they won’t lose their money if they aren’t allowed to go.”

Earlier this month, the government confirmed it would not offer refunds, extensions or discounts on renewals for Railcard holders who couldn’t use their cards during lockdown.

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