Thursday, June 07, 2012

Many rail passengers pay too much for their journey

A press release from the Office of Rail Regulation gives the results of a survey of more than 1600 passengers from across Great Britain:
  • Nearly three-quarters of all those interviewed were not confident what ‘off-peak’ times were. 5% of on-train interviewees travelling on an ‘Anytime’ ticket realised that they could have travelled on an ‘off-peak’ ticket. 
  • Over 50% of online respondents agreed that ‘it is a bit of a lottery as to whether you find the best price for a rail journey or not’. 45% said that the fare system is too complicated for them to understand. 
  • 41% of online respondents said they had previously purchased tickets and later found they could have made the journey on cheaper tickets. 
  • 70% of on-train interviewees were unaware that they could only travel on the specified train on an ‘Advance’ ticket. Among those travelling on an ‘Advance’ ticket, 37% interviewed did not realise that if they missed their train, and travelled on a later train, they would normally have to buy a new ticket.
The Daily Telegraph quotes the Lib Dem transport minister as saying:
"I firmly believe that buying a rail ticket should be a straightforward transaction, not an obstacle course. 
"Passengers should be able to confidently choose from a range of fares, finding the best one for their journey without having to understand every nuance of the fares and retail structure. 
“When people do decide to travel by rail, they want a train ticket, not a lottery ticket.”
The privatisation of the railways has not given passengers more freedom but less.

What people want is to be able to turn up at a station, pay a reasonable fee and travel. But the railway companies, in order to maximise their profits, require us to book in advance and to travel at tightly controlled times.

While services have improved on many lines since privatisation, we have all paid a high price for those improvements and not just in money.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Unfortunately this is the tip of the iceberg in the great rail rip off. By splitting tickets (for example travelling Birmingham - Derby then Derby - Sheffield then Sheffield - Leeds as opposed to a ticket between Birmingham and Leeds) great savings can be had, by passing having to use peak tickets for the whole journey, and only using peak tickets for the parts of the journey where you are travelling at peak times.

ATOC (the railway trade association) are trying to remove this for the Conditions of Carriage (Section 19 to be specific)according to a recent article in the Telegraph, which is equivalent on some journeys of a hike of 400%, forcing passengers onto tickets that would only have been used under British Rail 1) effectively as a punishment for not purchasing a ticket at the first opportunity or 2) or where a passenger would not travel back in the next 30 days, but when railways were privatised these became the regulated fares. Since then, what would have been the normal fares have had draconian restrictions applied making day travel over distance unaffordable to anybody except business passengers whos companies are paying.

When the worst offender of all rail companies was recently challenged repeatedly on a meet the managers online Facebook event on why splitting offered such big savings (Cross Country Trains) they repeatedly failed to answer the questions