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Rail industry proposes ending peak-tickets in ‘radical’ overhaul of rail fares

Train operators have called for a major reform of the rail fare system which would scrap peak and off-peak ticket pricing and support the rollout of ‘tap-in, tap-out’ travel nationwide.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) called its proposals a “once-in-a-generation” reform of the fares system, and the industry’s first contribution to the Williams Review.

Targeting a currently “outdated and outmoded fares and ticketing system,” the body said it wants to eliminate the “cliff edge” between peak and off-peak prices and possibly scrap them all together which it said will reduce overcrowding.

The radical proposals include a “best fair guarantee” from the rail industry, meaning that customers will automatically pay the cheapest fare available at the time of purchase and effectively ending the need for ‘split-ticketing.’

A weekly fare cap that allows commuters to avoid paying for their season tickets on days they don’t use it has long been called for by campaigners and is included in the proposals, as is a national roll out of the tap-in tap-out system currently used in London.

The RDG said the proposals would see some fares go down and some go up, with the overall effect being “revenue neutral,” and said the reform programme could be rolled out over the next three to five years.

A consultation with Transport Focus found that eight out 10 wanted the system overhauled, and the RDG now wants preparatory work to begin; and for the government, industry, and passenger groups to review the regulation alongside a series of real-world trials.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG, said: “The result of our nationwide consultation is clear – customers have different needs and want an easy to use range of rail fares to meet them. Our proposals can deliver exactly that – creating a system that better fits how people live and work today.

“Reconfiguring a decades-old system originally designed in an analogue era isn't simple, but this plan offers a route to get there quickly. Ultimately, it is up to governments to pull the levers of change.”

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Business national chairman, said: “Many small businesses rely on the rail network, so it’s key that the current out-of-date fares system is improved.

“The system needs to be brought into line with the more flexible way businesses work. This will allow companies to access the best deals when travelling, as well as making it easier to travel – and businesses to trade - across the regions of the UK.”


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