Millions face increase in rail tickets as five operators abolish super off-peak tickets

4 December 2023, 16:07

A new fare structure is being introduced.
A new fare structure is being introduced. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Millions of rail passengers face an increase in ticket prices as five operators abolish super off-peak tickets.

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A new fare structure is being introduced that ditches the cheaper tickets and introduces evening peak hours.

It means higher prices will apply between 4 and 7pm, Monday to Friday, for passengers travelling between Zones 1 and 9.

The rail operators affected by the change in fares will be: c2c, Chiltern, Southeastern, London Northwestern Railway and South Western Railway.

Some Thameslink services which call at stations run by Southeastern will also be affected.

It comes as part of the government's drive to simplify fares - with it set to impact 53 stations in London and the southeast.

But plans to introduce pay-as-you-go contactless ticketing across 50 more stations outside the capital have been delayed until the spring, operators told the Times.

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National Rail advice says: “Depending on the day and time of your journey, it may be better value to buy two single tickets rather than a return ticket.

"For example, if you make a peak journey in one direction and an off-peak journey in the other, then an anytime single plus an off-peak single will be cheaper than an anytime day return.”

Michael Roberts, the chief executive of watchdog London TravelWatch, said: "We’re fully behind the idea of simplifying the fares system and travel options for rail passengers, but we’ve not seen much publicity about these changes and are concerned that public awareness may be very low.

"We don’t want people to get caught out so we’re encouraging passengers to check to see if their journey will be affected.

"For example, some tickets have had to be phased out completely, including the super off-peak option. This will mean that some journeys may actually cost more.”

Rob Mullen, managing director of c2c, said: “The introduction of simple and easy-to-understand fares and peak travel times will make searching and buying tickets easier and more straightforward for our customers.

“Moving forward, all of our ticketing products — smartcards, traditional paper, e-tickets and contactless pay as you go (when launched) — if purchased on the day of travel, will offer fares at the same price.”