TRAIN ticket prices could go up and split ticketing savings would be scrapped under sweeping new plans for a rail fare overhaul.
The plans aim to simplify ticket prices so that savvy passengers would no longer save by splitting up train journeys to cut the cost of travel.
Getty – Contributor Train tickets could go up but others will come down under proposals to simplify rail fares
The huge overhaul of the ticket pricing system by industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has been welcomed by industry watchdogs.
But the proposals would be hard on thrifty travellers who cleverly split their journey, which can currently save you a lot of money.
Experts add that the plans will push up some prices, while others would come down so that the system would be “revenue neutral” overall.
The proposals, published this morning, aim to always charge passengers the best value fare for their journey.
Getty – Contributor The proposals would see an end to split ticketing, according to the Rail Delivery Group, because it would make all fares ‘fairer’
The plans would introduce:
A new fares system that people can understand that RDG claims will give passengers a “best fare guarantee”
Contactless “tap-in, tap-out” pay-as-you-go, rolled out across the country
A range of fares that would encourage flexible workers to travel in off-peak hours, which RDG says will save money and reduce over-crowding by up to a third on the busiest services
This would remove the need for split ticketing, which is a way of getting around pricey fares by buying several tickets for different parts of the journey.
Currently, commuters travelling from London to Bristol at 5pm would pay £109.
But by using a split ticketing service, passengers would only pay £59.50 – including a £5.50 fee share charged by split ticketing companies – which saves £49.50.
Industry bodies said that overall, there would be “no change in average fares” as a result of the plans – but admitted prices for some will rise.
Critics have warned that the proposals may not fix the problem with overpriced rail fares because outdated train company websites are often to blame.
Mike Richardson, spokesman for split ticketing company RailEasy, which owns websites such as splitticketing.com and splitmyfare.co.uk, said: “The reason some people miss out now on cheaper fares is because they use sites with outdated journey planning algorithms that don’t find cheaper alternatives.
“Who knows what will happen under these new proposals but the best tech will win.
How to cut the cost of your train ticketsHERE are all the ways you can currently slash the price of train tickets:
Buy a season ticketIf you’re making the same journey frequently, for example, your daily commute to work, then you may find that it works out cheaper for you to buy a season ticket.
But remember, you’ll need to fork out the initial upfront costs before you benefit from the savings.
Book in advanceNetwork Rail releases its new timetable 12 weeks before it starts, so train companies usually make tickets available at this time.
Some operators release them even earlier but the key is to book early.
Sign up to Trainline’s ticket alert service to find out when cheap advance fares go on sale for a particular journey you need.
Split your ticketsIf you are taking a long train journey, you could save hundreds of pounds by splitting your tickets.
A one-way advance ticket from Leeds to Oxford tomorrow costs £99.40.
But split your ticket by travelling from Leeds to Birmingham New Street (£60.10) then from Birmingham New Street to Oxford (£18.50) and you pay £78.60.
You often won’t even need to change trains and National Rail lets you split your ticket as long as the train calls at the stations you buy the tickets for.
There are websites to help you do this, the best ones include Splitticketing.co.uk and Mytrainticket.co.uk.
Get a railcardThese can slash a third off the price of some tickets.
They cost between £20 and £30 a year. For example, the 16-25 Railcard gives a third off ticket rates for full-time students of any age. The new 26-30 railcard is also out now.
Hunt for cheap ticketsDon’t pay over the odds for tickets — and remember to compare prices before you buy. First, check the National Rail website, which is a great way to get an overview of routes and travel times.
Then check RedSpottedHanky and Trainline to see if cheap fares are available.
They will usually charge you to make a booking — between 25p and £1.50 — so factor that in.
“If you want to check for cheaper fares now, just Google ‘trainsplit’ or ‘split ticketing’.”
The “Easier Fares For All” proposals were put together after the UK’s biggest ever rail fares consultation of more than 20,000 train passengers.
The consultation found that eight out of ten people want the current system overhauled and nine out of ten want smart tickets and the potential for price capping.
Another eight out of 10 want fares to encourage travel at all times to fill up empty seats during off-peak hours.
Now, trials could start across the country to see how the plans would work in action.
The current fares system hasn’t been changed radically since the 1990s, and aimed to ensure people could still buy tickets between two stations regardless of which companies’ trains they would travek on.
But since then, there have been more complicated rules brought in which means there are now 55million possible fares across the network.
There are also anomalies which make it difficult for rail companies to guarantee fare prices, according to the RDG.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “Rail companies are already working together on plans for real world trials so people can see what our proposals could mean for them.
“However, current regulation needs to be updated and we want to work with government, who are key to making improvements a reality, to deliver the better fares system the public wants to see.”
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus, which led the easier fares consultation jointly with RDG, said: “Passengers want to see root and branch reform to the outdated and outmoded fares and ticketing system.
“Trials will provide reassurance and allow passengers to understand the impact of the changes.”
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Passengers were furious at the end of last year after it was announced rail fares would rise by 3.1 per cent on January 2.
On the same day, the 26-30 railcard was finally rolled out.
The 26-30 railcard was initially piloted in East Anglia before a nationwide trial in March.
What the January 2018 rail fare rises mean for you
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