Rail passengers face price hikes

Rail passengers who pre-book train tickets will no longer be able to seek refunds under a new ticketing system that comes into effect this week.

The first phase of the new system will see all passengers who book rail journeys in advance issued with an ‘advance ticket’. The second phase, coming into effect in September, will see the introduction of ‘anytime’ and ‘off-peak’ tickets.

The new names are designed to make purchasing tickets simpler for passengers by reducing the different types of fares available.

However, the first phase will be a blow to those passengers whose plans to travel by train are either changed or cancelled as they will not be able to claim a refund on advance tickets. Any changes to times will also now cost £10.

There are also fears that the changes could give train companies the green light to increase ticket prices.

The TSSA rail union warns that rail companies could use the changes to reduce off-peak travel or introduce more expensive tickets.

And national rail watchdog Passenger Focus warns that three rail companies - Virgin Trains, Cross Country and National Express - are now changing their ticket restrictions and creating “unfair” price rises.

Virgin Trains is planning to restrict the use of Saver tickets on some of its services, while National Express East Anglia has hiked up its most expensive fares, standard open return tickets and has barred One Day Travelcards on its trains leaving from Liverpool Street between 4.29pm and 6.34pm.

Finally, CrossCountry has revised restrictions on some of its journeys and no longer accepting the use of railcards on Saver fares to obtain a further discount at peak times.

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