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Built Environment Committee call for strategy on rail fare reform

The Built Environment Committee has written to the Rail Minister to call for the Government to set out a strategy for rail fare reform. The letter sent to Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris asks Government to ensure that Great British Rail (GBR) is clear in its objectives when implementing the new system. It is hoped that by setting out its objectives the Government can build public trust and encourage passengers to return to rail services.

The main points from the letter include:

  • The Government ensure contactless payment is rolled out across the national rail network before GBR launches in 2023.

  • Single-leg pricing and contactless fare structures are introduced for commuters which may generate more demand.

  • Improving the new flexible season tickets which are currently deemed to be unsatisfactory.

  • GBR’s new ticketing system should not stifle competition to create a diverse range of ticketing retailers competing on fair commercial terms.

  • Government urgently announcing the delayed regulated rail fare increases for 2022.

  • Addressing anomalies in the ticketing system such as split ticketing and different off-peak windows.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, Chair of the House of Lords Built Environment Committee spoke on the importance to improve the rail fare system, saying , “To encourage passengers to return to the railways after the pandemic and meet the important commitments set at COP26, it will be essential to improve the consumer experience for rail passengers and simplify fares. The launch of GBR in 2023 provides a unique opportunity to clarify fares and reduce confusion. On ticket types, one size doesn’t fit all. Two different approaches are needed: one for long-distance travel and another for regular short-distance commutes, often in urban areas. Journeys should be supported with technology, such as contactless or QR codes, to reflect customer expectations in the modern world. Early wins for GBR could include reform of ticket types, digitalisation and improving the underwhelming new flexible season tickets currently on offer.”

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