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End of the line for baffling rail fares?

Passengers scratching their heads with frustration trying to understand how to get the best train fare has become a far too familiar scene at the station ticket office. From split ticketing to the sheer number of fares available, passengers tell us they find the whole thing bewildering.

Transport Focus has long called for a thorough reform of Britain’s complex rail fares and ticketing structure. Passengers tell us they want to see a simpler, more understandable and trustworthy system. While much progress was made under the banner of the recent Fares and Ticketing Action Plan, it did not ultimately address fundamental reform.

Our work on, among other things, rail passenger priorities for improvement, trust and attracting infrequent and non-users to rail, shows that helping passengers access better value for money fares plays a key part in passengers’ relationship with the railway.

There is a strong pent-up demand for smarter ticketing. The benefits of this would be magnified if the fares structure was addressed at the same time. We need a fares and ticketing system that supports the way we now travel and want to pay for that travel.

The current system of fares and ticketing and the regulation that underpins it has grown up for understandable and often laudable reasons. However, the resulting fares jungle has become increasingly difficult for passengers to navigate and understand. The growth of split ticketing is also fast eroding trust in advertised fares.

Working in partnership with the Rail Delivery Group on its planned consultation on reform we will seek passenger views on what a fairer system might look like.

We are conscious that any reform and its implementation might well affect some passengers more than others. We are keen to ensure the overall passenger voice is heard in these debates and that any proposed options for change clearly identify the ‘winners and losers’.

You can sign up to have your say in the consultation here.

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