Rail reform: New flexible season tickets come on sale in boost to part-time commuters

21 June 2021, 06:03

New flexible season tickets could save commuters hundreds of pounds
New flexible season tickets could save commuters hundreds of pounds. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Train passengers could save hundreds of pounds in England as new flexible season tickets come on sale on Monday.

The first step in a planned series of rail reforms, the scheme offers savings on some routes for people travelling two or three times a week.

Commuters travelling two days a week could save more than £260 going from Woking to London, £230 from Liverpool to Manchester and £170 from Stafford to Birmingham, the Department for Transport said.

The savings compare to the cost of daily tickets. The paperless flexible ticket, which can be used from June 28, allows for travel on any eight days in a 28-day period.

It is part of the package of reforms announced in last month's Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, which will lead to the creation of the new public sector body Great British Railways.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Our railways work best when they are reliable, rapid and affordable.

"As we kickstart the biggest reforms to our railways in a generation, flexible season tickets are the first step. They give us greater freedom and choice about how we travel, simpler ticketing and a fairer fare.

"With a season ticket calculator to see which option works best for you, and a book with confidence guarantee to make journeys stress-free, the future of fares is flexible."

The new tickets have been brought in with the expected changes to travel patterns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Increased home working has led to a steep decline in people travelling by rail, especially those who work five days a week.

Tickets offering discounts for part-time commuters are already available in Scotland and Wales.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Some passengers will welcome today's new flexible tickets and discounts. This will be useful in helping people choose rail again.

"Our research with passengers showed us there was strong demand for a new ticket that suited people who expected to commute less frequently in future.

"This is a positive step towards much-needed longer-term reform of how rail tickets are sold."

As part of the planned packages of reforms, Great British Railways will own and manage rail infrastructure, issue contracts to private companies to run trains, set most fares and timetables and sell tickets.

It followed the Government's decision to take on the liabilities of operators when the demand for train travel collapsed in the pandemic, at a cost of £12 billion.