Digital-only 'millennial' railcard goes on sale as rail fares soar for commuters

Published by Stephen Little on 02 January 2019.
Last updated on 02 January 2019

26-30 Railcard national trial launches but website struggles with demand

The new millennial railcard for people aged between 26 to 30 goes on sale from today.

The scheme will allow cardholders to save an average £125 a year, according to industry body the Rail Delivery Group.

The launch of the railcard was originally announced by the chancellor in the 2017 Autumn Budget, but the trial, which was originally due to last until March 2019, was concluded early. 

A new railcard giving 16 and 17-year-olds 50% off rail travel will also be rolled out in September.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, says: “This is welcome news for passengers and will help take some of the sting out of the new year fares rise.

“With less than half of passengers satisfied with the value for money of their journey and even fewer young people satisfied, this will help make travelling by rail that little bit more affordable for young people.”

The railcard is expected to save those eligible £600 million per year, or £125 each on rail fares. 

    Meanwhile, rail fares soar by 3.1%

    Rail fares are going up by an average of 3.1% today despite punctuality hitting a 13-year low.

    This means that for many commuters the cost of a rail season ticket has gone up by more than £100, well above the rate of inflation.

    A season ticket for Brighton to London will go up from 4,696 to £4,844 – a rise of £148.

    Meanwhile, a ticket from Reading to London will go up by £160 a year to £5,168.

    The news comes after a year of delays, cancellations and overcrowding on many lines. According to Office of Rail and Road data, 14.6% of services missed the industry’s public performance measure (PPM) of punctuality in the 12 months to 8 December.

    Darren Shirley, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, says rail passengers had suffered an “atrocious service” in 2018 and that today’s fare rise would only add to their misery.

    He says: “The government’s decision to press ahead with this fare rise despite a year of delays, cancellations and overcrowding, shows a total disregard for passengers and may leave many wondering what they are paying for.

    “The review of the railways currently underway must prioritise passengers’ needs and recommend a fundamental reform of the fares system and how fares are set.”

    Rail fares have rocketed in Britain over the past decade, growing at more than twice the speed of wages. Since 2008, fares in Britain have risen by 42%, while average wages have increased by just 18%.

    Mr Smith adds: “Passengers won’t believe this is not fake news. Rail fares are going up in January after a year blighted by timetable chaos, poor performance and strikes. Until day-to-day reliability returns, with fewer significant delays and cancellations, passenger trust won’t begin to recover.

    “Passengers now pour over £10 billion a year into the railway alongside significant government investment, so the rail industry cannot be short of funding. When will this translate into a more reliable services that are better value for money?”

    Regulated fares account for half of fares available and include most commuter journeys. They cannot increase more than the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.

    However, the use of RPI inflation for train fare price increases has drawn widespread criticism as it runs higher than CPI inflation – the official measure for inflation used by the government and the Bank of England.

    How the 26-30 railcard works

    The new railcard costs £30 and gives you a third off most rail fares for one year. The card can be bought up until the day a person turns 31.

    It is first digital-only railcard. Once you have downloaded the app you can start travelling straight away.

    If your phone runs out of battery or gets lost it can be swapped to another mobile device.

    However, there are some restrictions.

    A £12 minimum fare applies on all journeys made between 04:30am and 10am Monday to Friday. Journeys that start after 10am will receive the railcard discount.

    The 26-30 Railcard won’t apply to season tickets, Eurostar, and most London Underground and Docklands Light Railway tickets – unless using Oyster pay-as-you-go.

    For more details visit the 26-30 Railcard website.

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