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Call for radical shake-up of train fares system

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Transport Focus is calling on the government and train companies to work together to offer passengers better value for money deals to get them back on trains.

The independent watchdog has dubbed its proposals “Head Out to Help Out”.

The call for fairer fares comes the day before the annual announcement about train fare increases.

In a survey by Transport Focus, of those who commuted by train prior to lockdown, about two in three expect to continue to work from home more often in the future.

Transport Focus is urging the government to reform the fares and ticketing system to offer better value for money.

It says this should go beyond a fares freeze, rather than the rise in line with RPI, and include the roll out of more flexible season tickets for people returning to their place of work part-time.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “People’s feelings about travel, and the way they use public transport, have changed. While the rail leisure travel may bounce back, our research tells us almost two in three former rail commuters expect to work from home more so we will probably now travel less for work, both commuting and on business.

“The government need to get train companies to offer a combination of cut-price deals, carnet style ‘bundles’, flexible season tickets for commuters and better value for money fares across the board. To get Britain moving again in the coming months, tickets that fit the way we live and travel now are needed, not just season tickets designed for city gents in the last century.

“Like the government’s restaurant deal, we need a ‘Head Out to Help Out’ campaign to help get the country on the move again, boost the economy and reduce traffic on our roads.”

Transport Focus is calling for:

  • Cut price deals to entice passengers back to rail travel following the impact of coronavirus, starting with the launch of a ‘Head Out to Help Out’ scheme.
  • The introduction of more flexible season tickets and ‘carnets’ (which offer a discount for multiple journeys when bought upfront) for people returning to their place of work part-time.
  • Reform of the complex rail fares system to be urgently accelerated to deliver a better value for money fares system for passengers.