Rail Delivery Group has published proposals for a ‘radical’ reform of fares system across Britain, which can be implemented over the next three to five years. The proposals will make easier to use and bringing it up to date with how people travel today.
The ‘Easier Fares for All’ proposals explain how updates to regulation would enable the transparent, simpler to understand fares system people want, backed up for the first time by an industry ‘best fare guarantee’. The reform would support ‘tap-in, tap-out’ pay as you go being rolled out across the country, enable greater local control over fares in devolved areas; and better integration of rail fares with those for other modes of transport. With a new system, commuters working flexibly and travelling in off-peak hours could see savings while overcrowding could be reduced by up to a third on some of the busiest long-distance services.
The radical proposals put the needs of customers at the heart of change and have been informed by the biggest ever public consultation into what people want from rail fares. They meet a commitment made by the rail industry when launching its consultation to bring forward proposals that are revenue neutral, meaning no change in average fares or taxpayer support.
The consultation, delivered in partnership with independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus, found that eight in 10 people want the current system changed, 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.
Based on these principles, the proposals are built with a simple proposition at their core: that customers only pay for what they need and are always charged the best value fare. This would be enabled by the fares system moving to a ‘single-leg’ structure, as currently operates within London, so that customers are able to choose the most appropriate ticket for each leg of their journey.
If the proposals are developed and adopted, they could enable the industry to offer a ‘best fare guarantee’, so that customers would be assured that they would always be paying the lowest fare available where and when they buy it, which meets their needs.
In addition, updated fares regulations could help local political leaders have more control over their transport systems, where relevant powers are devolved, enabling them to co-ordinate train fares alongside other local transport.
Independent analysis indicates that taken together, making fares easier in the way set out would encourage over 300 million more journeys taking people off the road and on to the railway, increasing revenue to give governments options either to re-invest in lower fares, or in to the network.