26-30 Railcard: taking advantage of opportunities

Source: RTM Feb/March 2019

After a nine-month national trial, the rail industry launched its seventh National Railcard for 26-30-year-olds on 2 January 2019. Rail Delivery Group managing director of customer experience, Jacqueline Starr, reveals how the proposition came into fruition and how other industries utilise their learnings.

National Railcards were introduced and have been developed for two main purposes: the first being to encourage rail travel amongst groups of people who do not regularly travel by train, and secondly for people for whom rail travel may be particularly difficult or cost-prohibitive, such as disabled travellers or senior citizens.

Costing just £30 a year (or £20 a year for the Disabled Person Railcard), railcards save customers a third off most rail fares (and 60% on kids fares when travelling using a Family & Friends or Network Railcard).

Britain’s train companies, working together in partnership, are constantly carrying out research to develop new products that make leisure travel easier and better value for its customers.

Through working with economic forecasters Cebr, we were able to identify that those under 30 years old are the only age group that has less discretionary income now than they had 10 years ago. Taking this research into consideration, as well as the way people live and work today, train companies decided to trial a 26-30 Railcard proposition to see if, by offering this age group discounted travel, they would benefit more from all of the opportunities that travelling by train opens up.

The trial of the 26-30 Railcard first began with 10,000 Railcards on Greater Anglia on 6 December 2017 and was extended nationwide to another 10,000 people on 13 March 2018. The National Rail 26-30 Railcard trial was scheduled to last until 12 March 2019. However, taking into consideration the level of demand – during the national trial, the 26-30 Railcard website received 12 times the normal number of visitors – and initial survey results, the rail companies announced that the 26-30 Railcard would be here to stay three months before the trial was scheduled to end.

By speaking to customers every step of the way, we were able to identify that the 26-30 Railcard was a desirable proposition for this age group that would encourage more rail travel during off-peak times.

  • 98% of those that took part in surveys during the national trial revealed that they were very satisfied or satisfied with their National Rail 26-30 Railcard;
  • 85% of respondents said that the National Rail 26-30 Railcard encouraged them to make journeys to visit friends or relatives;
  • 71% said that the National Rail 26-30 Railcard encouraged them to use the Railcard for a day out;
  • Around a third explained that they were more likely to make a shopping trip by rail.

Open communication is fundamental to ensuring that you’re able to provide your customers with the types of products and services they feel they will benefit from. Had research during the trial revealed that customers weren’t using their railcard to make more leisure journeys, then we would have reviewed and tweaked the proposition until it became a product they would benefit from.

Together with train operating companies, Network Rail, and HS2, we’re working hard to develop a railway that:

  • Puts customers at its heart;
  • Increases accountability;
  • Delivers value for money;
  • Drives economic growth across the country;
  • Strengthens communities;
  • Inspires our people.

In 2019, rail companies will be unveiling proposals to reform the rail fares system, informed by responses to our Easier Fares consultation, which launched in June and received almost 20,000 responses. Our proposals will aim to reform fares and update regulation to make it easier for our customers to get the right ticket and support continued investment to improve the service.


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