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DfT to force rail operators to reveal cheapest fares

Rail users may soon see savings under government plans to make cheap ticket options clearer to passengers.

DfT ministers are planning to overhaul the complex system currently used for train ticketing, which often leads to passengers paying more than they need to for their travel.

Under the measures – due to be announced next month – rail firms may have to redesign thousands of ticket machines and ticket offices across the country’s rail stations to better inform passengers of the cheapest tickets available for their journey.

“Rail passengers must be able to trust that they are getting the best possible deal every time they travel and we are working with industry partners and consumer experts to identify improvements which could be brought in quickly across the network,” said a DfT spokesperson.

 “We want a simpler, more modern and passenger-focused fares and ticketing system which takes advantage of all the benefits of new technology. Progress has been made, including an announcement earlier this week of £80m to accelerate the roll-out of smart ticketing across the network.”

Currently train operators are only obliged to tell customers of the ‘most suitable’ ticket for their journey, but not the cheapest ticket.

The government also plans to order operators to be more consistent on ticket conditions such as peak time restrictions after reports of separate ticket machines offering passengers vastly different fares for the same journey, sometimes even within the same station.

Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, said that he would welcome any system that makes the ticketing system more transparent, but stressed that any reform must address the “real fundamentals” of the ticketing system.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, sought to reassure passengers of the changes, saying: “We want rail customers to get the best possible deal every time.

“We’re making it easier and quicker for people to pay to travel by train with smarter ticketing, and we want to speed up improvements that will mean simpler, clearer fares that people can trust.”

There are currently an estimated 16 million different train fares available on the UK’s rail network with over 40 different fares existing between London and Birmingham alone, the Times found.

(Image: c. Lauren Hurley and PA Wire)

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Manchester Mike   30/11/2016 at 14:40

About time.

Ticketman   01/12/2016 at 14:56

In my experience, although people think they want the cheapest fare, once they learn of the rules and restrictions that come with it they find it's actually not what they want. Hence focus on selling most *suitable* ticket.

George   01/12/2016 at 17:56

I do wonder what the DfT mean by 'quickly' with regard to making changes to the fares structure and ticket issuing machines. I seriously doubt either of these can be dealt with quickly, but I don't doubt both will come at a significant cost. So who's going to fund the changes being sought?

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