Train tickets could become cheaper, easier to understand and fairer, following a consultation by Britain’s rail companies on tickets.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents rail firms, said there are around 55m different fares in the current system and admitted that customers may find it difficult to pay the right fare.
The public consultation will launch next month and run until September. It will set out proposals for government to improve the system. Train companies may ultimately have to change the way they sell train tickets.
Train tickets and prices
With 55m different train fares, travellers are not always offered the cheapest fare, according to the regulator. There are also ‘long-standing anomalies’ such as split ticketing, where customers can get a better price by buying multiple tickets, and peak fares being charged for journeys that are partially during off-peak times.
Ticket prices rise each year (by 3.4%, on average, in January 2018), but commuters tell us their train journeys are dirty, crowded and expensive. In our survey of 14,000 people in October and November 2017, blighted commuter company Southern achieved a customer score of just 28%. The highest-scoring commuter companies scored 64%. Its customers told us they didn’t know when or if their trains would arrive and that tickets were overpriced.
Find out how your commuter train company compares.
Will train tickets and prices change?
The RDG says the consultation aims to get tickets that are ‘transparent, predictable, fair, trusted, easier to use and value for money for customers’.
Changes could include:
- Integrated tickets for other services as part of the journey such as buses and trams
- Flexible tickets for people who work part time or regularly work from home.
It also hopes to improve investment so that tickets won’t need to be subsidised by the taxpayer.
The current rules for train tickets were set in 1995. The rules assumed that people visited ticket offices to buy their tickets and that they would travel to work every weekday.
But today many people are buying tickets online or with their smartphones, and an increasing number of people work part time or work from home on a regular basis.
Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said: ‘Rail passengers have struggled for far too long with a confusing ticketing system that can make it hard to pay the right fare, so passenger-focussed reform of the fare system is long overdue.
‘The rail industry and government must ensure that any reforms tackle the poor levels of passenger satisfaction with the current ticketing system and are implemented swiftly.’
The consultation, which will run from June until September, will ask members of the public for their opinions to help create a report for government. Average fares will not rise as a result of the changes, according to RDG.
Train delays: your rights
If your train is delayed or cancelled you do have some rights to a refund.
Depending on the company you travel with you may be able to claim compensation with Delay Repay if you’re delayed by more than 15-30 minutes. Usually you’ll get around 25% back for a delay of 30 minutes and sometimes the company will issue the refund automatically.
Other companies use a passenger charter to give compensation and in some cases you may need to be delayed by more than 30 minutes to get compensation. The amount you get depends on the details of the charter.
We have more advice on our train delays advice pages.
We’re also campaigning to make rail refunds easier, so sign our petition to help.
There are no defined rights around dirty or crowded trains, but it’s always worth complaining to your train company because it should be delivering a satisfactory service to its customers. You’ll be able to find the complaints procedure on their website where you can complain in writing.