I know I’ve said this so many times before but travelling by train is definitely my preferred way to travel.
There’s no stress about who’s driving, no worrying that the kids will need a wee as soon as we drive past the last service station for 20 miles and no having to worry about getting lost along the way because someone put the wrong postcode into the sat nav.
Add to that the fact that you have so much more space on a train and you’re not all cramped up in a car and there’s pretty much no reason why anyone would choose to drive unless they absolutely had to.
Well, no reason except for the overcomplicated, confusing fares, and the super crowded peak time trains that is!
But that’s something that the Rail Delivery Group are trying to change as they share their proposals to completely overhaul the country’s fares system, making it easier to use and bringing it up to date with how people travel today. They would like to work with the Government, as well as industry and passenger groups to review regulation and reform the way that fares are worked out
The proposals have been put together following the biggest ever public consultation into what people want from rail fares and because so many people took part, the ideas that have been gathered promise to put the needs of the customers right at the centre of the changes.
In all, nearly 20,000 people from across Britain took part – with additional input from over 60 umbrella organisations representing over 300,000 other organisations, authorities and individuals, including businesses, accessibility groups and local authorities.
The consultation, delivered in partnership with independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus, found that eight in 10 people want the current system changed which is probably no surprise to many of us, with respondents calling for a fairer, more transparent and easier to use experience.
Responses to the consultation have been used to develop five principles that should underpin reforms to the fares system, including value for money and simplicity and I know that makes things sound much more complicated than they really are but in essence, the proposals are built with one simple plan: that customers only pay for what they need and are always charged the best value fare.
You can’t say fairer than that, can you?
For example, commuters who currently buy weekly season tickets could save money when they travel for fewer than five days a week or they have the flexibility to travel outside of peak travel times which supports changes to working patterns these days. The number of people who work part-time or are self-employed has increased by a third in the 22 years but we don’t really do anything to help them.
And I know what you’re probably thinking – that it all sounds a bit too good to be true and is way in the distant future but it’s really not. These changes are being proposed by the rail industry and the fact that they’ve asked for so many people’s input can only mean that they want this to happen. They want to be able to start trials as soon as possible with a view to this new system being implemented across the UK within the next three to five years. However, the industry can only do this working alongside Government to review regulation and roll out a series of real-world trials as a next step.
If their proposals are developed and adopted, they could enable companies across the rail industry to offer a ‘best fare guarantee’, so that customers would always have the confidence to know that they’re paying the lowest fare available for what they need.
I for one am all for hearing more about these changes! You can find out more for yourself here.
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