After the public fury at the last year’s botched train timetable rollout which caused misery across the North, the Government and industry pledged that problems would be addressed and rail passengers would finally be listened to after years of enduring poor services.
Now the first proposal from the rail industry has been put forward to a Government-commissioned review of the network, suggesting a sweeping overhaul of ticketing that aims to stop passengers having to buy split tickets to get the cheapest fares for some journeys.
Industry body the Rail Delivery Group says research indicates almost three-quarters of passengers want the need to buy multiple tickets for different sections of the same journey to save money to be eradicated. The requirement for the currently over-complicated system to be changed is highlighted by the 2017 case of a football supporter who bought 56 tickets to cover a return journey for him and his girlfriend to travel from Newcastle to Oxford in order to save £30.
While it is heartening the industry does finally appear to be starting to listen to passengers, this particular proposal does carry something of a sting in its tail. The RDG has come up with a “revenue neutral” plan, which means some current fares will go up as others are reduced. Equally, the changes will be far from immediate. It may take up to five years for every operator to be using the new system after being rolled out on a company-by-company basis - which has the potential for further confusion.
Passengers will be likely to treat the proposals with scepticism until more details are revealed.