Latest Rail News

04.07.12

‘Dramatic improvement’ needed in fares info for passengers

Passenger Focus is urging TOCs to take greater responsibility for selling the correct ticket – rather than leaving it to passengers, often in a rush and without all the right information, to have to make the decision.

If fares are used to further incentivise people onto off-peak trains and away from the peak, it wants a carrot rather than stick approach – not to simply put prices up even further for people who cannot be flexible.

In its response to the Government’s consultation on rail fares and ticketing, the passenger watchdog also says that self-service ticket machines are “not good enough” to justify major reduction in ticket offices, and says that long-distance price caps are needed to protect passengers.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “It appears that smart ticketing has the potential to address some of the concerns passengers have about the current system – we welcome that. But with passenger satisfaction with value for money falling, the Government must think very carefully about how much regulated fares should be allowed to increase next January.

“Incentivising commuters to travel at less busy times, and less often, is one thing – but not at the expense of penalising those who have no choice but to get into work when they do.

“There are many elements of the current ticketing structure passengers want to see retained. For example,Britain’s predominantly ‘turn up and go’ system and that, if an inflexible ticket suits you, long-distance prices can be very reasonable. A key message from Passenger Focus is that train companies and others who sell tickets need to take more responsibility to help passengers to the right ticket, rather than expect them to pick from a baffling array of different prices. Dramatic improvement in the way fares information is presented to passengers, together with smart ticketing, should make a big difference.” 

One specific recommendation is allowing people to mix and match between inflexible Advance and flexible off-peak single tickets, by setting single fares at half of the current return price.

It also wants credit given for what passengers have already paid for if a new ticket needs to be bought.

The full response is at www.passengerfocus.org.uk/research/publications/passenger-focus-response-to-the-governments-rail-fares-and-ticketing-review 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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