Cheaper train fares on Mondays and Fridays to tempt commuters back to the office

16 February 2023, 09:54

Britain’s biggest rail operator, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) have started selling cheaper peak tickets on some Southern services on the first and last days of the working week.
Britain’s biggest rail operator, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) have started selling cheaper peak tickets on some Southern services on the first and last days of the working week. Picture: Alamy

By Hannah Holland

Britain’s biggest rail operator has started selling discounted peak fares on Monday and Friday in a bid to entice passengers back to the office.

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Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is trying to lure back the commuters who still haven’t migrated back to the office following the pandemic, or those who have gotten used to the routine of hybrid working and only commute in the middle of the week.

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics, between 25 January and 5 February 2023, 40% of the workforce had worked from home at some point in the last seven days, compared with just 12% in 2019.

Average passenger numbers for GTR have recovered in the last year, but overall revenue is stuck at 80% of pre-pandemic levels, largely due to the collapse in the number of season ticket holders.

In order to quell the loss of revenue, the train operator will begin selling some advance tickets with a discount of 15%. Passengers with railcards will save an additional 15%.

The company shared that its morning peak commuter numbers were 70% below pre-Covid levels, with Friday being the quietest day.

Between 25 January and 5 February 2023, 40% of the workforce had worked from home at some point in the last seven days, compared with just 12% in 2019.
Between 25 January and 5 February 2023, 40% of the workforce had worked from home at some point in the last seven days, compared with just 12% in 2019. Picture: Alamy

GTR shared that its morning peak services carry 210,000 passengers, compared with between 230,000 and 250,000 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

On Fridays, the figure drops to 160,000.

GTR’s customer services director, Jenny Saunders said: “We’ve seen a sea change in travel habits because of the pandemic.

“Mondays and Fridays are unsurprisingly less popular with our customers because they bookend the week, but our trains are quieter as a result so we want more people to use them.

“Lower ticket prices, coupled with Southern’s new loyalty rewards scheme, will encourage people back to rail at times when we have more space on board, and they’ll help with the rising cost of living.

“We really hope both trials will be a success.”

Advance tickets - which were previously only available for off-peak services - are now available as a trial for some services between Victoria, Clapham Junction and East Croydon, as well as stations from Three Bridges in West Sussex.

GTR explained that a commuter based in Worthing travelling to London Victoria would ordinarily use a £66.20 Anytime Day Return but the advance peak return ticket would be 15% cheaper at £56.20.

Advance ticket-holders must travel on a specific service, whereas passengers who buy an Anytime Day Return fare can catch any train.

GTR is also trialling a loyalty scheme that enables ticket-buyers to collect points which can be redeemed for rewards such as cinema tickets, days out and coffee.

The Department for Transport has tight control over the financial decisions of most train operators in England after taking on their costs and revenue risks to maintain services since the start of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Return rail tickets will be scrapped under plan to bring UK in line with other European countries

READ MORE: British Gas owner's profits triple to £3.3billion amid 'challenging environment for customers and communities'

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