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Most machines still not offering cheapest option a year after DfT action plan

A huge majority of ticket machines in Britain still do not inform passengers about cheaper off-peak tickets even though the government set out to target the issue specifically more than a year ago.

After producing the rail fares and ticketing action plan on 13 December 2016, the DfT made a commitment to ensure ticket vending machines made it clear to customers if they were configured to sell off-peak tickets.

However, data released by the department today shows that the rail sector has fallen significantly short of its target, with 70% of machines still not offering the cheapest option.

Machines are set not to sell off-peak tickets during on-peak times so as not to confuse some passengers. This means that some people are not made aware when they can wait a short amount of time to purchase cheaper tickets.

The government was able to report progress in other areas of fares and ticketing, including greater flexibility for people who have forgotten their railcard, with the ability to claim the cost of a fare back the first time someone forgets their card.

But on other issues, the DfT and Rail Delivery Group (RDG) are still lagging behind. For example, there were plans to reduce industry jargon which could often be confusing and leave people unsure as to where they could travel on their ticket.

These have been pushed back from initial estimates, with the latest report claiming that the “scale and complexity of this undertaking has resulted in progress taking longer than initially scoped.”

It has been necessary for the RDG to work closely with central government on these issues to ensure some problems could be dealt with.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the organisation, who is writing for the next edition of RTM, said his organisation had made a commitment with the DfT to increase customer satisfaction, adding that it will “continue to work with government and others to get this right.”

Despite some of the project’s shortcomings, rail minister Paul Maynard focused on the positive changes that the action plan has brought about for British commuters.

He commented: “Our aim was to make it easier for passengers to find the best value fares, offer greater flexibility when travelling and remove the complexity from the whole ticket buying process, which can sometimes leave people scratching their heads.

“Working with the train companies and consumer groups has helped us make some really positive changes, and work will continue into the new year to improve ticket vending machines and bring forward fare pilots, to ensure buying the right ticket is simple, easy and straightforward.”

He was supported by Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, who stated: “Passengers will be pleased to see the progress made so far, including advance fares now available on the day of travel, and more discretion shown when railcards have been forgotten.

“We now look forward to seeing further wins for passengers from wider reform of the complicated issues.”

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Andrew Gwilt   21/12/2017 at 21:38

And this is why the train fares has gone up to 3.4%.

Frankh   21/12/2017 at 23:17

The annual fares rise has nothing to do with the article.

Peterg   22/12/2017 at 08:01

Is anyone remotely surprised by this? These are private companies running commercial operations, for who working in the interests of the customer is entirely secondary to maximising revenue, even if they would never say it. They were never going to fully comply with an initiative that reduces their revenue without the DfT forcing them to.

AJG89   22/12/2017 at 11:54

Most students and young people who are aged between 16-25 and do have a 16-25 railcard can get a 1/3 off travel no matter if they use their railcard to go to college or university or going out. Plus you can use it anywhere. Also a new 26-30 railcard that has been trialled and is soon be introduced which is currently trialled and used in East Anglia at the moment but could be used in other regions in England. Such as East Midlands, West Midlands, The West-Country, The Southwest, North of England and The Southeast (apart from London as Network Southeast railcard covers all of London & the Southeast). But it could also be trialled and introduced in Wales and Scotland.

George   23/12/2017 at 22:32

Perhaps the scale and complexity of the undertaking would have been understood had Mr Plummer spoke with those in his organisation with expertise in ticket retailing matters. And Peterg is quite right, why would TOCs want to reduce their income? And if forced to do so, would they not be in a position to claim compensation from the DfT, i.e. the taxpayer? The alternative would most likely be a reduction in the quota of cheaper advance tickets.

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