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Flexible season tickets on sale from June as part of rail overhaul

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Written by: Emma Lunn
21/05/2021
Commuters taking the train to the office two or three days a week will be offered tickets with potential savings of hundreds of pounds against daily and season tickets.

The new flexible tickets will be on-sale on 21 June, for use by 28 June. The paperless tickets will allow travel on any eight days in a 28-day period, with passengers able to tap smartcards or scan mobiles at the station, with no need to select the days of travel in advance.

The government says the change has the potential to save commuters hundreds of pounds, providing greater choice and flexibility.

Example savings which the government has given, compared to an annual season ticket, include savings of more than £360 for those commuting two days a week and more than £300 for those commuting three-days a week from Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street.

Those commuting from York to Leeds can expect to save more than £210 commuting two days a week with a flexible ticket, and more than £200 commuting three days a week.

The ticketing plans are part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published yesterday. The plan is based on the shared vision of Keith Williams, the independent chair of the Rail Review, and the Grant Shapps MP, the secretary of state for transport. The government says it plans “to put rail on the right track to support the levelling up of our towns, cities and regions”.

A publicly owned body, Great British Railways, will be formed to centralise operations, bringing track and trains under the control of one body. The government will collect fares and operators will be paid a fee to run services.

The Great British Railways ticket website and app will offer digital ticketing and contactless pay-as-you-go travel via smartcards or mobile phones.

Under the government’s plans, a single compensation system for operators in England will be created. This will provide a ‘simple system’ for passengers to access information and apply for refunds.

Andy Bagnall, director general of the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operators, said: “Train companies have long called for many of the reforms in this white paper and these proposals can deliver the biggest changes in a generation. Getting the detail right will be crucial to ensuring that the white paper fulfils its potential to improve journeys, offer independent oversight and clear accountability, and create a new set of fares which are simpler and more value for money.

“For our passengers, we are ambitious to move quickly and work with government so that we can attract people back onto trains with better services and maximise the railway’s contribution to the recovery.”

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Passengers will welcome this move towards a more accountable and joined up railway. Ultimately what they will care about is whether rail is the best option for them – if it is reliable, efficient and good value.

“Flexible tickets and discounts will help some passengers. We welcome steps to simplify ticketing. This is a positive step towards much-needed reform of how rail tickets are sold. We need tickets that are more likely to match how we might live and travel in future.”

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