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Big Plans Big Changes

Big Plan Big Changes

Big Plan. Big Changes. was an industry campaign to promote improvements happening on the railway and industry proposals for rail reform to deliver a more customer-focussed, joined-up and accountable.

Summarised in the industry's Changing Track proposal to assist in the development of the Williams-Shapps white paper and our Easier Fares for All proposal for a fair, efficient, and modern system of tickets and fares.

Changing track: Our proposals for a more customer focussed, joined-up and accountable railway

The railway plays a vital part of Britain’s growth and prosperity, but everyone agrees the way the railway operates today needs to change so that it can deliver far more in the future.

That’s why Britain’s rail companies have developed proposals for a radical alternative to the current franchising system. A New Partnership Railway would better join up the industry, strengthen accountability and improve services for passengers – underpinned by easier, better value fares for all. 

Our proposals follow months of conversations with passengers, businesses and communities across Britain.

We are calling time on short term fixes and setting out the generational system upgrade the country expects.

Big Changes

With our proposals the current franchising system would be replaced with different types of services designed to suit the needs of different areas and different passengers.

Accountability would be strengthened by creating a new independent national organising body to co-ordinate the whole industry, helping to end the blame game when things go wrong and giving penalties where rail companies fall short.

And we want the new system to be underpinned by an easier to use, better value fares system.

Principles for change

Our proposals are based on six principles for change that we think need to be met to deliver the right priorities for a modern railway.

Put customers at the heart

Put customers at the heart

Create clear and strengthened accountability

Create clear and strengthened accountability

Deliver value for money for passengers and taxpayers

Deliver value for money for passengers and taxpayers

Drive economic growth across the country

Drive economic growth across the country

Strengthen communities by being more responsive to their needs

Strengthen communities by being more responsive to their needs

Inspire the people who work in rail by providing fulfilling careers

Inspire the people who work in rail by providing fulfilling careers

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Rail must support the wider economy and social outcomes.
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Vernon Everitt,
Managing Director, Customers, Communication and Technology, Transport for London
Changing Track

Our eight-point plan

We propose a clear, eight-point plan to deliver this new system for our customers and the communities we serve:


Deliver easier fares for all
Updating decades of regulation to enable a fares system which is much easier for passengers to use and better value for money, backed up by an industry ‘best fare guarantee’.


Put a new independent organising body in charge of the whole industry
To remove politics from the running of the railway as far as possible, join up decisions, and hold the industry to account with penalties where it falls short.


Introduce responsive, customer focussed ‘public service contracts’, replacing the current franchising system
These would be made up of TfL-style single branded ‘concessions’ or new ‘customer outcome-based’ contracts, in place of today’s tightly specified inputs-based model, which would better incentivise the private sector to innovate to improve, while only rewarding good performance.


Give customers more choice of operators on some long-distance routes
Having more rail companies competing for passengers, offered a range of different services based on what they want. This means rail companies would have to adapt to passenger needs to keep their business.


Make sure track and train are all working to the same customer-focussed goals
Introducing a single thread of consistent targets and incentives running through the whole industry, from CEOs to frontline teams and between the track and the train, so that all parts of the railway pull together – ending the blame game.


Bring decisions about local services closer to home
So that, where appropriate, such as in larger city regions which serve commuter markets, customers would benefit from local transport bodies being given more power to design and specify local services.


Enhance freight’s central role in delivering for Britain’s economy
By developing a clear national framework to put freight in to the core of business, environmental, and long-term strategic government policy making.


Invest in our people to deliver positive long-term change for our customers
With a new approach to working with the unions, governments and the industry which provides our people with the skills, resources and rewards they need to deliver generational change in the railway.

Easier fares for all - the rail industry's proposal for a fair, efficient, and modern system of tickets and fares.

What we are proposing?

The rail industry is proposing a root-and-branch reform of the current system of fares and tickets. With regulatory changes we can deliver what customers have told us they want: an up-to-date, easier to use system where they have more control over when they travel and how much they pay.

What did people tell us?

The rail industry, in partnership with passenger watchdog Transport Focus, conducted a major listening exercise on fare regulations which received nearly 20,000 responses.

We also met with representatives from organisations across the length and breadth of the country, including passenger groups, business groups, accessibility groups and local authorities, to hear what their priorities were for reforming fares. This was backed up by economic analysis and commercial modelling by consultants KPMG.

Easier fares
Easier fares

How do we get there?

The research clearly showed that while customers don’t seek a simple, one-size-fits all fares approach, they do want fares that reflect their needs, and which are simple to use.

They told us they wanted: value-for money and flexibility; an easy to understand offer; tickets which are easy to buy; greater personalisation; protections maintained and redress if things go wrong; a system which reflects national and local needs; and, a sense of trust and confidence in the tickets they’re buying.

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We just need a simple, easy to understand fare system.
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Consultation respondent - Leisure traveller
Female, 65-69, North West
Easier Fares

Based on what we have learned, we have arrived at proposals with a simple proposition at their core: that customers should only pay for the travel they need and the system is designed to give them the best value fare. To deliver this, we are proposing a two stage approach to reform, underpinned by commercial trials which would give customers more opportunity for engagement with the proposed changes:

Stage One

Industry and government work together to reform the way that fares are worked out. This means government replacing the outdated Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) with a new set of system regulations.

Stage Two

With these new system regulations in place commercial changes will then need to be agreed with operators, reflected in new pricing regulations written in to their government contracts.

These changes would enable


The ‘unbundling’ of fares, through a move to a single fare as the basic unit of all pricing in the new system, with algorithmic rules underpinned by regulation to allow and encourage the best combinations of single leg fares for return, through (allowing travel from any point on the network to another regardless of operator) and multi-journey tickets. This is similar to the way fares are currently structured within London, which has its own rules distinct from the rest of the network.


Train companies to be able to create discounted, premium, train specific and personalised variations of these fares, for example, charging less at quieter periods, more for first class, less for reduced flexibility, and so on. This ensures that fares are priced appropriately to market and are not simply the sum of their parts.


Protection from excessive fares through regulation of price levels rather than of a limited number of specific fares types that may not reflect customers’ needs. For example, moving from regulating the day return and 7-day Season Ticket for commuters, to regulating the maximum price paid when travelling over the course of a week - with systems programmed to deliver this automatically.

These changes would also enable local political leaders across the country to have more control over their local and regional transport systems where the decision has been taken (or is taken in the future) to devolve the relevant powers and responsibility. These reforms would increase their ability to coordinate train fares alongside other local transport in and around their cities. This is currently difficult even where those powers are already devolved, because rail-only fares are set under different national rules to local travel schemes.

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The most important thing when buying a ticket is for it to be easy to buy the cheapest ticket available for the journey you want to make.
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Consultation respondent - Commuter
Female, 45-54, East of England
Consultation respondent Commuter Female 45-54 East of England

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