Train tickets made easier as a million pieces of jargon are slashed

Changes being made by rail companies from next week will mean jargon has been slashed on tickets for over a million routes, making it easier for passengers to buy and use the right ticket.

From next week, train companies will be making it even easier to get the right ticket for people travelling on over 100,000 routes by slashing jargon such as ‘Any Permitted’ and replacing it with clearer descriptions about which routes a ticket is valid for.

The move will mean that over the last two years, jargon has been cut from over 1.1 million routes. The latest batch of jargon-free tickets will be available to book from 11 August.

Efforts to make language clearer include replacing grouped stations such as ‘London Terminals’ with the specific station name when validity is limited to this station. This will not alter the validity of the ticket but will ensure people know which services they can use their ticket on. If it is valid to multiple stations, which can’t fit on a ticket, ‘London Terminals’ will be retained and the information will be provided on National Rail and train company websites.

The railway is doing all it can to make tickets simpler and easier to use, but welcome incremental changes are not a substitute for the network-wide benefits that would be unlocked for all passengers through meaningful fares reform brought about by regulatory change. The industry’s proposals for reform would enable technology to screen out irrelevant fare choices and guarantee that passengers are buying the best fare for their journey, every time.

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said:

“The rail industry’s work to slash jargon is making ticket buying easier, but real simplification requires big regulatory reform of the fares system. Like our passengers, we want fares to be easier-to-use, more flexible and better value. With the Williams Rail Review looking at this closely, now is the time to bring outdated fares regulation in line with how people work and travel today.”

The industry’s proposals to mix-and-match different types of single tickets based on a ‘single-leg’ structure would enable customers to choose the most appropriate ticket for each leg of their journey, mixing-and-matching different types of single tickets and making changing travel plans easier. 

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The industry has been removing jargon since February 2017. The latest batch of new tickets for 101,000 routes will be available when searching in advance from 11 August and will become effective for travel from 8 September. This will mean 1.1 million tickets have had jargon cut overall.

Jargon that has been cut includes:

  • over a million uses of ‘Any Permitted’ (21% of all uses, towards a 30% target that can be addressed within the current fares system)
  • 20,000 uses of ‘London Terminals’, plus 28,000 instances of other group stations
  • all 14,000 uses of ‘Route Direct’.

2. The following phrasing is changing (changes have been made at various points since the Fares Forum Action plan commenced in February 2017, up until now):

‘Route Direct’, replaced with:

  • Blank if the journey follows a direct route, with no changes – e.g. Manchester Airport to Heald Green
  • ‘Via …’ specifying the station if there is a change on the route or the service passes through a major station – e.g. Inverkeithing to Gleneagles via Kirkcaldy

‘Any Permitted’, replaced with:

  • Blank if the journey follows a direct route, with no changes – e.g. Boston to Skegness
  • ‘Via …’ specifying the station if there is a change on the route or the service passes through a major station – e.g. Morpeth to Durham via Newcastle
  • If customers can travel via multiple routes, information will be provided on the National Rail website to define which – e.g. Norwich to Sheffield

‘London Terminals’, replaced with:

  • Where the ticket is valid at one specific station, it will say so on the ticket – e.g. Maidenhead to London Paddington
  • If customers can travel to multiple stations, information will be provided on the National Rail website and train company websites to define which – e.g. Basildon to London Terminals allows travel to London Liverpool Street and London Fenchurch Street

3. In February, the industry published its ‘Easier Fares for All’ to explain how updates to regulation would enable the transparent, simpler to understand fares system people want, including:

  • Commuters travelling from outside London in to the capital or elsewhere could benefit from the kind of weekly capping system currently available for journeys within London. With pay-as-you-go pricing and a ‘tap-in tap-out’ system, commuters that currently buy weekly season tickets could save money when they travel fewer than five days a week or are able to travel off peak. This supports changes in working patterns, with part time working and self-employment having increased by over a third in 22 years. 90% of consultation respondents wanted consideration (definitely or maybe) of price capping.
  • Long distance and leisure travellers could see demand spread more evenly across the day, potentially reducing overcrowding by up to a third on the busiest services. Updating regulations around peak and off-peak travel would mean ticket prices could be set more flexibly, spreading demand for a better customer experience. This would be supported by a wider range of on the day fares. 78% of respondents wanted consideration (definitely or maybe) of fares that encouraged empty seats to be filled.
  • All customers would no longer need to commit at the time of buying their outward journey to the time of day when they will return, instead mixing-and-matching different types of single tickets, and making changing travel plans easier. 74% of respondents wanted consideration (definitely or maybe) of fares based on the amount of flexibility required.

If the proposals are developed and adopted, they could enable the industry to offer a ‘best fare guarantee’, so that customers would be assured that they would always be paying the lowest fare available where and when they buy it, which meets their needs.

A reformed fares system would also help make the most of technology like online accounts, smartcards and smartphones to make ticket buying simpler, so that customers are shown fares which match their needs while screening out irrelevant choices that cause confusion.

4. The rail industry worked together to develop proposals following three months of intensive activity, with almost 20,000 consultation responses and conversations with over 60 organisations representing over 300,000 other organisations, authorities and individuals, enabling it to build the most comprehensive picture ever of what Britain thinks about rail fares and ticketing. This found:

  • more than eight out of 10 people (84%) want to see the fares system reformed. Only one in 12 (8%) thought reform was unnecessary
  • around nine out of 10 people (88%) want changes to how tickets are sold
  • seven out of 10 people (68%) think the cost of fares should reflect the time of day they are travelling
  • eight out of 10 (78%) felt that encouraging the filling up of unused seats should be prioritised
  • a similar proportion (81%) want to be able to buy tickets using online accounts
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