Latest Rail News

19.07.18

Rail fares must be simplified if HS2 is to ‘raise the bar’ as promised

Railway fares must be simplified if HS2 is to bring a step change to the way passengers travel on the network, argued Sir David Higgins.

Writing in a major new report, HS2 Ltd’s outgoing chairman said fares must become simpler and easier for passengers to understand so that the high-speed line can “raise the bar for excellence in transport.”

“They must also allow people to travel more across longer distances to realise their full potential, providing greater opportunities for social mobility and increasing national productivity,” he continued.

“The way we design, build and operate HS2, and the planning and investment that it unlocks in local places on the route, must be guided by that principle of making the benefits of Britain’s new high-speed railway accessible to everyone. Only then can HS2 transform productivity and economic growth in the Midlands and north.”

HS2’s business case assumes that the same fares are charged across the high-speed route and the existing rail network. But ticketing and fares must be streamlined and made more transparent if the industry is to encourage people to travel by rail.

“There are now around 55 million different fares on Britain’s railways and passengers report low levels of confidence that they bought the best value ticket for their last journey,” explained Higgins.

“I am pleased to see that train operating companies recognise that the range of fare options has not kept pace with technology or how people work and travel today.”

In June, a new partnership between the Rail Delivery Group and independent watchdog Transport Focus launched a three-month public consultation into rail fares to discover what passengers want to see from a modern and straightforward ticketing system.

At the minute, commuters have difficulties in navigating the system and are not always offered the cheapest, most efficient or easier option when buying tickets online or in stations. Operators were even urged to refund passengers after the ORR found out through a mystery shopper exercise that 20% of buyers are paying more than they should for travel.

Top image c. georgeclerk

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