Government urged to launch national scheme for flexible rail tickets

17 August 2020, 06:22

The RMT has urged the Government to  launch a national scheme for flexible rail tickets as many people will continue working from home after the virus crisis ends
The RMT has urged the Government to launch a national scheme for flexible rail tickets as many people will continue working from home after the virus crisis ends. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Government is being urged to launch a national scheme for flexible rail tickets as many people will continue working from home as coronavirus pandemic restrictions further ease.

In a move which could save commuters thousands of pounds the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has looked at more than 100 commuter routes across England, Wales and Scotland and the current prices for annual season tickets, saying passengers would make significant savings if they could buy a season ticket valid for part of the week.

Rail usage has dropped by three-quarters since the coronavirus lockdown began in March as people were urged to work from home and only one in three white-collar workers have returned to their offices, the RMT says.

Surveys have shown that huge numbers of workers will either continue operating from home, or split the week between their office and home.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis there was significant demand for flexible ticketing with more than 8.3 million people working part-time, said the RMT.

As we reported previously, July's RPI inflation figure is published on Wednesday, which sets the increase for next year's season tickets and could see commuters paying 1 per cent more for their tickets.

Under the proposals from the RMT some examples of savings included:

- Brighton to London Terminals current season ticket price is £4,580 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £2,748, a saving of £1,832 on a full season ticket.

- St Albans to London Terminals current season ticket price is £3,712 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £2,227, saving £1,484 on a full season ticket.

- Glasgow to Edinburgh Terminals current season ticket price is £2,504 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £1,502.40, a saving of £1,001.60.

- Swansea to Cardiff Terminals current season ticket costs £1,844 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £1,106.40, saving £737.60.

- Nuneaton to Birmingham Terminals current season ticket costs £2,080 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £1,248, a saving of £832.

- Macclesfield to Manchester Terminals current season ticket costs £2,148 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £1,288.80, a saving of £859.20.

- Bradford-On-Avon to Bristol Terminals current season ticket costs £2,268 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £1,360.80, a saving of £907.20.

- Warrington Stations to Liverpool Terminals current season ticket costs £1,640 a year. A three day a week flexible season ticket would cost £984, a saving of £656.

- Middlesbrough to Newcastle Terminals current season ticket costs £2,224 a year. A three day per week flexible season ticket would cost £1,334.40, a saving of £889.60.

RMT assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: "The reality is many commuters and their firms will be holding off purchasing season tickets for 2021 as home working becomes a long-term feature.

"There will be a massive drop in demand for conventional season tickets and unless the demand for more flexible tickets and affordable tickets is met, commuters will permanently abandon the railway.

"The Government must rebuild passenger confidence and encourage passengers back to the railway by giving them what they want - flexible ticketing that's good value and suits their needs as part of the Covid-19 recovery.

"The vested interest of the Train Operating Companies has meant flexible ticketing has not been introduced because they believe it will hit the profits for their shareholders.

"RMT is today calling on the Government to immediately introduce a simple national scheme, supported by protecting ticket offices so that the right advice is always available, as part of a strategy for a publicly-owned railway that has rail workers and passengers at its heart."

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