Rail users on certain routes can expect to see simplified fares and the best deal every time they travel as part of new trials due to start this May.
Current problems with the existing fares system include divergence in price between two single and one return ticket to and from the same destination, ‘split ticketing’ - where buying multiple short journeys to a destination is cheaper than one single ticket -, confusing information given by ticket machines, and even ticket prices varying between machines that are located in the same train station.
However, the trials to simplify the complex rail fares system will see:
Fare options between London and Sheffield will be overhauled. Currently, tickets on this route date back to when the direct service was much less frequent and journeys often needed a change of train via a longer route. But these less relevant routes, which customers do not use, will be removed from the fares system to make it clearer.
CrossCountry Trains will offer the cheapest ‘through fare’. Currently, CrossCountry Trains have to price through tickets for long connecting journeys, even where customers can beat the price by combining different ticketing options (split ticketing). Instead, it will offer one price combining the cheapest fare for each leg of the journey.
Single-leg journey prices tested on London to Glasgow and London to Edinburgh routes. Finding the best price on both legs of the journey is made harder because regulated off-peak fares are listed as a return fare, meaning customers are often left to calculate whether two single tickets are cheaper than a return. But now customers will be shown the best price in each direction.
A ten-point plan has also been drawn up, which aims to overhaul how information on ticket machines is displayed. This includes getting rid of jargon, informing when off-peak tickets are on sale, and making it clear what types of ticket he machine sells. This plan is due to be implemented by the end of the year.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents rail companies, says the trials could lead to the biggest shake-up of rail fares for more than 30 years.
Jacqueline Starr, director of customer experience at the RDG, says: “Working with government, we’re determined to overhaul the system to cut out red-tape, jargon and complication to make it easier for customers to buy fares they can trust, including from ticket machines.”