Fares, rail policy and DfT news

07.02.19

DfT consulting on plans to expand pay-as-you-go rail travel nationwide

The DfT has launched a consultation into expanding the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) ticketing model currently used in London.

Rail minister Andrew Jones had announced a renewed government drive to expand ‘smart ticketing’ nationwide, and is now seeking views from passengers and rail stakeholders on the possibility of extending PAYG across the rail network.

PAYG allows passengers to simply swipe a smartcard or a contactless bank card at ticket barriers to pay for their tickets, and the DfT wants a roll-out by 2020 – dependant on the results of the 12-week consultation.

The government has invested £80m in smart ticketing, setting out its aim in 2017 to introduce smart and paperless ticketing across all of England and Wales by the end of the previous year.

In November, Transport for the North (TfN) launched the first phase of its Smart on Rail project, rolling out smartcard schemes across Yorkshire in a partnership with Northern Rail and TransPennine Express.

The government now says it wants to consider how it can go further and “make smart ticketing the norm” as it believes there is a strong demand for more modern travel.

Andrew Jones said: “We want to make rail journeys simpler and easier for passengers. Smart ticketing is the modern answer – offering simpler fares, fairer deals and less confusion for passengers.

“This consultation is about finding out what works for people, and we want to know how pay-as-you-go could make life easier for passengers who make hundreds of millions of journeys each year.”

The DfT said PAYG has the potential to be more convenient, removing the need to queue for tickets or work out what ticket you need, and to better reflect modern travel patterns, giving financial benefits to passengers who choose to travel less or at quieter times.

A TfL report last year showed that half of London tube and train journeys were made with contactless payments, and Jones said he recognised that rail passengers across the country look on the capital’s PAYG network “with envy.”

He did caution that whilst London’s system offers convenience and gives passengers confidence that they are buying the right ticket, London has been structured to work with and complement PAYG schemes.

“This is why we want to consult – to get people's views as to how we might take this forward,” the rail minister added.

“There is great potential in expanding PAYG, but we need to make sure we get it right and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard as we develop our reform plans.

“Our ambition is to have a fairer, more logical fares and ticketing system, and this consultation starts that process today.”

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