Flexible and part time workers urged to have their say on rail fare regulation

Part time and flexible workers are being urged to take part in a national consultation to deliver fare options fit for the way people work and travel today, as new research from KPMG shows that of those who use the train weekly, 29% use it three or four times and only one third (33%) use it five or more times.

The figures reflect broader social trends, which show that part time working and self-employment has increased by over a third in 22 years and the number of part time workers currently standing at 8.5 million. Yet well-intentioned but ultimately counterproductive regulations underpinning rail fares have remained unchanged from the mid-1990s and have failed to keep pace with that change, meaning that many find it hard to access fare options that are suitable for them.

That is why the rail industry is calling for the fares system to be re-engineered, to make it fairer and simpler for customers to buy the right ticket. In order to inform proposals which will be put to government in the autumn, the Rail Delivery Group is running a cross-country consultation in partnership with passenger watchdog Transport Focus, to hear the views of part time workers, stakeholders, employees and the public on what a future range of fares should look like.

Unpicking the regulation of a £10bn a year system critical to Britain's infrastructure won't be easy, and there are no simple solutions. The industry has committed that any proposals to government will aim to be revenue neutral, which means that any changes in fares would need to be balanced elsewhere.

That's why the consultation seeks to establish what the priorities for its customers are, encouraging them to express their preferences on options such as loyalty incentives to regular travellers, flexible fares based on the time of day travelled or a price cap.

The call to action comes on Smarter Working Initiative Day (Monday 23 July), part of the Smarter Working Initiative which encourages organisations to allow their employees to work flexibly, from any location, for just one day.

Jacqueline Starr, Managing Director of Customer Experience at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said:

“Since current rail fares regulations were put in place 20 years ago, there are millions more people working flexibly across Britain, including part-time and self-employed workers, and a modern fares system must provide easier fares options for them.

“As part of our long-term plan to change and improve, we want to work with governments to bring rail fare regulation up-to-date and account for modern ways of working through our easier fares consultation. We encourage you to take part today.”

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Britain’s railway is a vital catalyst for small business growth. With many companies moving towards flexible working, and a rise in the number of self-employed, we need fares regulation that fits modern employment patterns, allowing businesses to get the best deals when they travel.

“That’s why it’s important that everyone is to be able to have their say about what a fare system that works for them would look like.”

You can respond to the easier fares consultation at www.britainrunsonrail.co.uk/fares.


Notes to editors

  1. The KPMG survey asks 6,009 people about their frequency of travel, and shows:
    I’ve not travelled by train 15%
    Once 14%
    Less frequently than once a month 19%
    Approximately once a month 15%
    2 or 3 times a month 16%
    1 or 2 times a week 8%
    3 or 4 times a week 6%
    5 or more times a week 7%

  2. Consultation responses can be given by visiting www.britainrunsonrail.co.uk/fares. The hashtag for the consultation is #easierfares
  3. Last October, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors published a long-term plan for change – In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity. It included a commitment to increase customer satisfaction by developing practical proposals for the reform of fares.
  4. Chapters 4 and 6 of the 1995 Ticketing and Settlement Agreement set out how fares should be set and sold.
  5. In addition to changes already underway as part of the fares action plan which will improve the buying experience for customers, over the next six months, the industry will be looking to run a number of trials to test options for a future fares structure.
  6. Also, train companies will be selling more advance fares on the day of travel and more train company websites and apps will display information about when advance fares are running out. The industry will also be continuing to simplify and improve the information printed on orange tickets.
  7. The advent of digital ticketing and smartphones means there is potential to retail tickets in a way that lets more customers buy tickets where and when it suits them, and be confident they are paying the right fare. However, the inflexible nature of the current underlying fares structure and regulation limits the possibility to do this.
  8. Data on self-employment and part-time working is based on ONS May 2018 labour market statistics.
  9. Timeline of consultation process:
    • Public consultation opens – 4 June
    • Public consultation closes – 10 September
    • Final report – Late autumn
  10. The proposed consultation is not about the overall balance between farepayers and taxpayers since this choice is rightly a matter for governments.

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