Trials represent breakthrough in persuading ministers to consider revising historic regulations which prevent better value, fairer and simpler tickets

 

paul_maynardPaul Maynard

 

The Rail Delivery Group is intending to define a “a whole new territory” for rail fares in a series of pilot projects agreed with the government. Industry sources told Passenger Transport that approval for the trials represents a breakthrough in persuading ministers to consider revising historic regulations which have prevented better value, fairer and simpler tickets being offered since privatisation. The trials are due to start in the first half of this year.

It is understood that one of the three pilots will test new ways of pricing longer distance journeys to eliminate the need for passengers to buy split tickets to get the best fare. A second pilot will revise fare structures which require unsuitable tickets to be sold. A third pilot will revise archaic regulations which mean single journeys can cost virtually the same as return trips.

The proposals put forward by the Rail Delivery Group were initially rejected by the DfT due to the overall cost of rolling out simpler fare structures which would reduce the price of many journeys. There was also concern that reform would create losers as well as winners. However, after frank conversations with RDG chief executive Paul Plummer, rail minister Paul Maynard agreed to sanction the trials with the message “get on with it”.

Arguments which persuaded Maynard to act included explanations of how fares regulation is creating “a massive reputation and credibility issue” for the railway by perpetuating complex and irrational pricing.

 

Further coverage appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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