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

Network Rail seeks £45m integration partner for ECML digital railway

20/11/2018Network Rail seeks £45m integration partner for ECML digital railway

Network Rail has today launched the search for a private-sector partner to deliver a major digital railway transformation across the East Coast M... more >
ORR launches review into Delay Repay claims companies

20/11/2018ORR launches review into Delay Repay claims companies

The ORR has today launched a review into the role of Delay Repay claims companies in assisting customers with compensation claims when their rail... more >
Greater Anglia installs innovative WSP braking system across rural services

20/11/2018Greater Anglia installs innovative WSP braking system across rural services

Greater Anglia has fitted an innovative new braking system known as Wheel Slide Protection (WSP) to more of the rural trains across its network. ... 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

Crossrail and Crossrail 2: in the public eye

20/11/2018Crossrail and Crossrail 2: in the public eye

Since the shock announcement of the delay to Crossrail in September, taxpayers and decision-makers alike have been anxious to find out the latest updates to the two projects. RTM’s Jack Donnelly headed to Whitehall to report on what their bosses have to say about the schemes. Despite noting the “great frustration” of Lon... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Introducing iPort

20/11/2018Introducing iPort

Steve Freeman, managing director of iPort Rail, introduces the UK’s newest inland freight terminal. The UK’s newest inland rail ... more >
Maintaining light rail

20/11/2018Maintaining light rail

Dr Adam Bevan, Professor Paul Allen and Professor Jay Jaiswal, of the Institute of Railway Research, take a look at new rail asset management tec... more >
dessan Design in the digital railway

20/11/2018dessan Design in the digital railway

Denise Watkins, business development manager at Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe (HICSE), discusses her organisation’s exciting n... more >
Challenging the perceptions of rail

13/11/2018Challenging the perceptions of rail

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Rail Industry Association (RIA) explains how the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is challenging people’... more >

rail industry focus

View all News


HS2 train race: making the case

20/11/2018HS2 train race: making the case

Bombardier and Hitachi’s commitment to providing the best HS2 rolling stock pitch to the government was signified with the launch of their ... more >