Rail fares and tickets are not surprisingly a common source of complaint on FixMyTransport. Although there are expensive fares, there are also many which are cheap or reasonable, but the overall impression is one of a fares system riddled with unfairness and traps for the unwary, and a rail industry unwilling to do anything to fix the fundamental problems.
Examples which have been reported are the confusion of having cheaper fares for going further, where it is difficult to spot the right ticket on a machine from the confusing selection available and where splitting the journey into two tickets is cheaper than one. Users have also reported problems with ticket barriers which reject valid tickets.
What these FixMyTransport campaigns show is that whilst the train operators often give sympathetic responses, there is rarely a suggestion they want to fix the underlying problems.
However until 28th June 2012 there is an important opportunity to help fix the rail fares system as the government is consulting on changes and it is clearly important this is not left simply for the operators to influence.
The organisation which is being most proactive in supporting the interests of passengers is The Campaign for Better Transport with its ‘Fare Fares Now’ campaign:
Their website includes plenty of information and positive ideas.
The consultation is described here:
Anyone can contribute by following the link to on-line response form.
Here are a few more ideas which I believe would help:
1. Openly publish full fares information
2. Simplify restrictions so passengers can be confident their ticket is valid
3. Price single fares so they can be used as a flexible alternative to returns
4. Help passengers to find cheaper fares involving more than one ticket
5. Always provide a fare which is valid for any reasonable route and for any operator
6. Check restrictions are being used to make good use of capacity, and not simply to maximise revenue, and support this by openly publishing train loading information
The problem of fares complexity has been building up for years and has become one of the main frustrations for passengers. Let’s hope real change is on the way, sweeping away the current unworkable system.