On track at last: Finally, a plan to play fair on single fares as rail passengers could soon be spared the injustice of one journey costing almost as much as a return trip
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has vowed a crack down on rip-off fares
- New prices introduced between London and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh
- London North Eastern Railway will replace off-peak return tickets with singles
- Customers could save up to £73 per trip with the new government shake-up
Rail passengers could soon be spared the injustice of paying almost as much for a single fare as a return.
The Transport Secretary yesterday revealed a radical shake-up of a government-run route that will save customers up to £73 per trip.
New prices will be introduced for journeys between London and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
London North Eastern Railway (LNER), which is owned by the Department for Transport, will replace off-peak return tickets for the routes with singles which cost nearly half the price.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new scheme would help create ‘a more convenient, flexible and fairly-priced experience’
Those travelling between London and Edinburgh who buy a ticket at the station are currently charged £146.40 for a single – or £147.40 for a return. The cost of a single would be slashed to £73.70 under the trial, which begins in January.
Grant Shapps has vowed to crack down on rip-off fares by slashing prices for one-way tickets.
He said the scheme would help create ‘a more convenient, flexible and fairly-priced experience’.
He added: ‘This will save many people money with substantially cheaper single tickets, boost customer confidence, and ensure passengers up and down the country get the modern transport service they expect.’
Due to the fragmented nature of the rail system, some operators’ single fares can cost almost as much as a return – but in other cases they cost significantly less.
Passengers boarding a London North Eastern Railway train during the launch event at King’s Cross station in London. The trial on LNER will be used to determine whether a similar fares system can be introduced across the rail network
The rail industry has already recommended bringing down the cost of single fares as part of sweeping reforms of the fare system. However, experts have warned this may lead to a reduction in income from fares, which could prompt operators to raise the price of other tickets – or demand more subsidies from the Government.
The trial on LNER will be used to determine whether a similar fares system can be introduced across the rail network.
Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, called the plan ‘a welcome step towards fairer, simpler, more transparent ticketing’.
He added: ‘Single-leg pricing could make it easier for passengers to choose the most appropriate ticket for their journey and improve confidence that they are getting a good deal, but only if this is not used as a means to push up fares further.’
Other suggestions put forward by the rail industry include abolishing the ‘cliff edge’ between peak and off-peak fares in favour of more regular pricing throughout the day.
This would reduce the cost of some peak fares, but increase the price of some off-peak journeys.
Jacqueline Starr of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the industry, said: ‘Passengers, businesses and rail companies are united in wanting easier fares.
‘The trials on LNER’s routes will support our proposed reforms and create a system that better fits how people live and work today.’
The announcement comes days after rail chiefs faced a furious backlash after officials confirmed that fares will rise by an inflation-busting 2.8 per cent from January 2.
Ticket prices have risen by almost 40 per cent since 2010.