18th May 2018
Around 55 million different fares exist in the UK’s ticketing system, according to The Rail Delivery Group, an organisation that brings together the companies that run UK railways into one team.
The rail industry admits passengers are not always offered the cheapest fare available owing to long-standing anomalies like split ticketing, where it can be cheaper to buy several tickets for one journey, rather than just one.
Another problem for passengers is rail providers charging peak-time prices when half a trip is on an off-peak service.
The industry has promised that average fares will not rise as a result of any reform. The current fare system was established in 1995 and critics claim that it has not kept up with the increase in technology or the changes in the way people travel and work.
For example, when the system was first established, it was assumed that people would visit ticket offices to by their rail passes, and no one could foresee smartphone apps providing quick and easy ticket sales. Traditional season tickets are no longer an affordable option for commuters who work part time, are freelance or work on a flexitime basis.
Integrated ticketing that covers other modes of transport, including trams and buses, and more flexible tickets for part-time workers as part of the fare reforms.
A consultation begins next month and will conclude in September and the outcome will be a report with proposals for governments to consider.
Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute, says: “Transport is the lowest rated sector by UK consumers (according to our UK Customer Satisfaction Index) – with dissatisfaction in the rail sector hitting rock bottom. It is evident that improvements need to be made within the rail sector, and a core focus has to be around transparency. Honest communication by rail providers is critical to show some empathy for the inconvenience commuters face.”