Trial to simplify fares on cross-country commutes

Passengers using cross-country train routes should be able to save up to £260 a journey, under a new trial scheme to simplify fares that will begin in May.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) wants to ensure passengers are offered the cheapest possible fares, after describing the 16 million fares currently on offer as ‘baffling’ for passengers.

The trial will particularly benefit people travelling between Scotland and south-west England, although passengers travelling between London and Glasgow or Edinburgh may also benefit from clearer pricing.

A traveller buying an off-peak return from northern Scotland’s Wick station to Par, in Cornwall, can pay up to £342.50 on current fares. However, the RDG points out that by buying six separate fares for each leg of the journey, passengers can pay as little as £80 for the same trip. This is an example of how regulating single fares, rather than return fares currently regulated by the government, can be cheaper.

The RDG claim that the potential saving of £262 will soon be offered to customers automatically.

Jacqueline Starr, RDG director of customer experience, said: “We're determined to overhaul the system to cut out red-tape, jargon and complication to make it easier for customers to buy fares they can trust, including from ticket machines.”

The average price of train fares rose by 2.3 per cent in January, even though consumer prices rose by just 1.6 per cent last year.