A train firm have introduced flexible three-day-week season tickets for commuters travelling into London for work as thousands continue working from home after the coronavirus lockdown.
Great Western Railway is proposing a ‘three days in seven’ season ticket to encourage commuters to return to work at their London offices.
Another flexible ticket option will permit travel on any 12 days of the month, the Sunday Times reported.
Great Western Railway is proposing a ‘three days in seven’ season ticket to encourage commuters to return to work at their London offices following lockdown (file photo)
The company runs services into London from popular commuter towns and cities, such as Bath, Reading and Oxford.
Currently, the only flexible season tickets are in trial schemes, as peak-time tickets remain popular with commuters travelling into cities every day.
But standard season tickets are proving unsuitable for workers who are gradually returning to the office after months of working from home during lockdown.
Great Western Railway said: ‘Our research suggests commuters will travel, on average, into work three days a week, rather than the current five.’
A standard GWR annual ticket from Swindon to London Paddington currently costs £9,272, excluding any costs of London underground travel.
Thameslink, Northern and Great Northern train companies offer flexibility across some fares, such as providing a discount on a book of 10 single tickets.
The only flexible season tickets currently available are in trial schemes. But standard season tickets are unsuitable for those gradually returning to work for a limited days a week after lockdown (file photo)
A monthly season ticket travelling from Reading to London Paddington costs £454.70, compared with the annual ticket option, which is priced at £4,736.
Commuters have to pay more for an annual ticket that allows them to travel between zones 1-6 within London.
This increases the price of a monthly season pass from Reading to £539.60, and a yearly ticket to £5,620.
Workers not working a conventional five-day week currently have to buy expensive day-return tickets, which cost significantly more than a season ticket’s average journey price.
A peak-time day return from Woking, Surrey, to London Waterloo costs £22.90, whereas the daily rate is nearly half that for the cheapest monthly season ticket, used on every working day.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘A get-back-to-work message has got to be matched by the getback-to-work rail products to underpin it.’
Rail firms are submitting proposals to the Department for Transport, offering cut-price fares to appease commuters who will have to pay thousands for a season ticket (file photo)
This comes after Boris Johnson expressed his concern about the impact empty offices are having on city centre economies last week.
He and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were said to be aghast at the impact empty offices are having on town centre shops and restaurants – and worried that widespread homeworking is wrecking Britain’s productivity.
The Prime Minister also suggested people should return to the office if it is ‘safe’, during an online Q&A session with members of the public.
But official guidance remains the same, that those who can work from home should continue to do so.
There are also concerns that many staff will be unable to return to work even if they want to, as both offices and public transport will not be able to run at full capacity and adhere to social distancing.
Commuters annual season tickets do not apply for London underground travel, as they have to pay more for an pass that allows them to travel between zones 1-6. Pictured, commuters wearing face masks travel on TfL Victoria Line
A Government spokesman said of the return to work: ‘As we reopen our society and economy, it’s right that we give employers more discretion while continuing to ensure employees are kept safe.’
Only 4 per cent of professionals want to go back to spending four or five days a week in the office, according to research by recruitment agency Stanton House.
Rail firms are submitting proposals to the Department for Transport this week, offering cut-price fares to appease commuters who will have to pay thousands of pounds for a season ticket.
The proposals, which could still take months, is set to include carnets and flexi-season tickets, which will cover three return journeys a week.
The DfT said it asked the train industry to explore more options for flexible commuting to make things ‘as useful and convenient as possible’.