Fares must be repriced to deliver value for money, remove the anomalies which lead to split-ticketing and encourage more people to choose the train - particularly for travel to the workplace. Many people have discovered that they can work from home at least part of the time; we believe the trend away from 5 day commuting is now 'embedded' for many types of work. Flexible, clearly explained, smart ticket options which support this trend without encouraging a Tuesday – Thursday peak are essential.
We are campaigned for the 2022 Inflationary Fare rise to be skipped for the year - we believe this to be consistent, and fair to the railway as Vehicle Fuel Duty has been frozen, and domestic Air Passenger Duty will be reduced by 50% from 2023. We hoped that this would make up for the March 2021 fare rises being inflation busting - both continuing to use RPI (rather than CPI) and adding an extra 1% to the rise.
Meanwhile the flexi-seasons announced in June 2021 are a step in the right direction, but perhaps not quite flexi enough.
Neil Middleton, a Railfuture Director takes a look at expected Station Ticket Office closures and wonders if, looked at through wider viewpoints such as timing (vs fare simplification), inclusivity, attracting new passengers to rail they are necessarily a wise move. Pic: This is Money.
COP26: “They cut air passenger duty for polluting aeroplanes, have frozen fuel duty for motorists again and again, but if you want to take the green option and travel by train, the government punishes you with eye-watering fare increases” said Chris Page, chair of Railfuture “It really is crazy that at a time when there is a real need to reduce our carbon usage, all the good news is for the more polluting choices. All rail wants is for it to be treated fairly as we go about reducing carbon usage in transport. Surely the time is right for a fares freeze, which would match the gift to car users and air travellers. Anything else would go totally against the goals of COP26” The Climate Train - image from Avanti West Coast
There is lots of talk of fares reform, but the detail, other than headline items like "Pay as You Go" and "Single Leg" pricing is missing. An appearance before the House of Lords Built Environment Committee gave us a great opportunity to set out our thoughts on improvements needed to fares and ticketing: we advocate both specific tactical improvements and some principles for fundamental reform. Thameslink train at Blackfriars - own image
Railfuture sets out its views on how flexible season tickets might work for a mid-2021 launch date; we propose a flexible ticket providing 10 single journeys, to be used within 2 weeks and priced the same as a weekly season. This will meet the needs of the hybrid worker, who post Covid will split their time between home and the workplace. Image from Network Rail - Leeds station - plenty of passengers, one of the lifebloods of the railway
Better value fares, new ticketing options and aggressive marketing initiatives are needed to attract passengers back to rail after COVID-19. South Western Railway passenger won £5,500 in Touch Smartcard prize draw. Image by South Western Railway.
Easier fares for all – a Railfuture campaign successThe Rail Delivery Group’s ‘Easier fares for all’ proposal released on 18 February 2019 has taken on board all the key points on fares and ticketing that Railfuture has been campaigning for - clearly explained, value for money fares and tickets which offer a choice of flexibility in time and routes to allow passengers to make an informed decision, and smart ticketing which benefits the passenger.
In a further campaign success on 15 August 2018, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said that CPI could be used in place of RPI for the calculation of future ticket price rises, and wrote letters to unions and the Rail Delivery Group calling for the rail industry to contain its costs so that there is no additional burden on taxpayers.
Rail Delivery Group announced that unnecessary rail industry jargon has been removed from tickets, making them easier for passengers to understand - a success for our campaign.
Some people are deterred from travelling by train by the complexity of buying a ticket and the perception that fares are expensive, whilst some passengers are unclear whether they have the best deal so feel ripped off. Image: Play the ticket maze game to reach the Oyster!
Radical fare changes proposed by the Rail Delivery Group risk reducing choice and flexibility for passengers. What is needed are clearly explained fares which offer choice, not simplistic ticketing which removes flexibility. In London, the adjacent termini of St Pancras and King’s Cross offer alternative routes to Sheffield, giving holders of ‘any permitted route’ tickets the flexibility to choose either.
Britain is perceived to have high rail fares in comparison to other European countries. However, the entire package needs to be considered and few people appreciate some of the ’freebies’ that the fare buys, including a generous refund policy when trains are delayed. Unfortunately some people have abused this – fraudulently – for financial gain, as a news article in the London Evening Standard showed on 11th February 2016 (see photo and headline above).
Railfuture is concerned about the complexity of fares, which are way beyond the abilities of the general public – and even some railway staff – to fully understand. This is a big problem as substantial savings can be made by knowing the ‘best’ ticket to buy. (Photo: Some of the tickets from Paul Hollinghurst’s railway journeys.)
Graphic from the BBC web-site on day that RPI figures were published showing the relationship between rail fare increases in Britain (although actually the England-only increases for the last couple of years) and UK inflation over the last 26 years. The negative RPI on 2009 was caused by a huge drop in mortgage interest rates (which are excluded from CPI calculations).
- Campaigners slam government hypocrisy on eve of COP26 Tomorrow sees the opening of the climate summit in Glasgow, but transport campaigners have accused the government of hypocrisy following the autumn budget.
- The Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021: delivering for UK Rail services As we await tomorrow’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, Railfuture has voiced its fears for the future of the railway.
- Battling to save Waterloo – Bristol train services Railfuture and several other campaign groups are joining forces to fight plans to scrap direct trains from Bristol to Waterloo
- Short sighted rail companies shooting themselves in the foot New railway timetable proposals will deter passengers from travelling, leading to a downward spiral.
- Time for Action, not Words on Rail fares A good first step would be to announce that the historic RPI + 1% habit has been retired...
- The Flexi-Season: not quite flexi enough
- New flexi rail fares: one step forward, one step back
- A new type of train ticket for the return to the office
- Rail campaigners condemn inflation-busting rail fare increases
- Time for a rail fare freeze
- Another decade of misery for rail passengers
- Rail passengers rewarded with yet another kick in the wallet
- Budget: Unhappy New Year for rail passengers
- Has the government succeeded in pricing people off the railways?
- Rail fare rises show undeniable bias against the rail traveller
- Fare increase misery for rail passengers
- Rail fares increase
- Action plan for ticketing
- Inflation and fare rises
- Rail prices increasingly divorced from reality
- Inflation figures
- Rail fare price freeze looks good, but…
- More pain for rail passengers
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