Fares, rail policy and DfT news


Rail industry to seek national ideas for ‘root and branch’ fares reform in June

The rail industry will move ahead with “root and branch” reform of rail fare regulation by launching a public consultation on 4 June spanning the whole country in order to establish a roadmap for change, it has been announced.

In a statement, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) argued that decades of obsolete regulation have led to a ticketing and fare system outpaced by technology and how people work and travel.

Alongside watchdog Transport Focus, the RDG will look at proposals to make fares easier for customers to navigate, which will then be “designed to be neutral in overall revenue terms” and will require partnership working with governments in order to be implemented.

The consultation will close on 10 September.

This comes amid new research from KPMG which said that only a third of rail customers felt very confident they had bought the best value ticket for their last journey. And in December last year, DfT data showed that a year on from its ticketing action plan, most machines were still not offering the cheapest options to passengers.

Today’s RDG report also highlights the importance of securing an easier-to-use range of fares in order to deliver the industry’s long-term reform plans and to maximise benefits to customers, businesses and the economy.

The report argued that, although well-intentioned, regulation dating back to the mid-90s has been counterproductive and that extra layers of requirement have been added via individual franchise agreements since then. There are now 55 million different fares and, as a result, it has become increasingly difficult for rail companies to guarantee the best fare.

To help shape the consultation, the RDG has commissioned KPMG to formulate an independent report by late autumn to identify key principles which are driven by what customers need from the rail industry.

The organisation said these principles should include transparency, predictability, fairness, trust, ease-of-use and value for money; integration with other modes of transport; personalised, flexible fares; enabling of growth, innovation, efficiency and choice; and providing funding for investment to avoid the need for taxpayer subsidy.

A final report based on the consultation will set out new proposals to the government with options for fares reform.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG, said: “Unpicking the regulation of a £10bn-a-year fares system that underpins such a vital public service means there are no quick-and-easy solutions. The change that’s needed won’t be easy and the industry doesn’t have all the answers, which is why we want to hear views from passengers, communities and businesses in all parts of the country.

There have already been improvements and more are on the way but this consultation will enable us to create a clear roadmap with the country so that we can make the right changes for the long-term more quickly.”

Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, wrote about the industry’s major trust issue in the latest edition of RTM, where he argued that smart ticketing could be a solution to fare deals and customer compensation payments.

Responding to today’s news, he said: “Rail passengers have struggled for far too long with a confusing ticketing system that can make it hard to pay the right fare, so passenger-focused reform of the fare system is long overdue.

“The rail industry and government must ensure that any reforms tackle the poor levels of passenger satisfaction with the current ticketing system and are implemented swiftly.”

Chief executive of Transport Focus, Anthony Smith, added that the consultation would seek to make fares and ticketing systems more suitable to the way people travel now, especially by taking into account the “huge demand for smart ticketing.”

“Transport Focus, building on our unique insight and advocacy in this area, will ensure the passenger voice is heard. Any future regulation must support sensible, proportionate reform which can underpin change while preserving essential consumer protection,” he concluded.


Enjoying RTM? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Use cancelled electrification savings to boost Welsh transport, say MPs

21/05/2018Use cancelled electrification savings to boost Welsh transport, say MPs

Savings from the cancelled electrification scheme should fund a Welsh transport boost, the Welsh Affairs Committee has said. The committee argue... more >
Bid to reopen Bristol line rejected by DfT

18/05/2018Bid to reopen Bristol line rejected by DfT

Proposals to fund the re-opening of a Somerset rail line have been halted by the government’s refusal to finance the plans. As part of... more >
Welsh trains £200k makeover set to start

18/05/2018Welsh trains £200k makeover set to start

Work begins today on an 18-month programme to modernise fleets of Welsh trains. A £200,000 investment from Arriva Trains Wales (ATW), ... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

20/03/2018How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE Biometric identity, time and attendance specialists Donseed looks at how biometric technology is already starting to enhance health and safety measures on railway construction projects. Advances in technology are starting to transform the way in which the rail network in the UK is managed, operated and maintained.... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Rail: A woman’s world

18/05/2018Rail: A woman’s world

RTM’s Sacha Rowlands reports from a panel debate where six of the industry’s leading figures convened to discuss the fundamental issu... more >
Gordon Wakeford: The rail industrial revolution

18/05/2018Gordon Wakeford: The rail industrial revolution

Gordon Wakeford, managing director of the Siemens Mobility Division, explains how the company plans to make Yorkshire the base for the new U... more >
A year of change for the north

18/05/2018A year of change for the north

Achieving statutory status represents a landmark moment for northern transport and will have an enormous impact on what be achieved over the comi... more >
Make way for the D-Train

15/05/2018Make way for the D-Train

Adrian Shooter, chairman of Vivarail and former chairman of Chiltern Railways, provides an exclusive update on D-Train technology and talks about... more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >