One of the odditities of train travel in the UK are return rail fares. A perfect example of this is one of the routes I use – London Marylebone to Brimingham.
If I brought a single ticket – it would cost £31.30.
However, if I brought a return ticket, it costs a £31.40 – a grand total of 10p extra.
10p extra for a return ticket is a bargain. Not so much if you’re just buying singles – Data – National Rail Enquiries
With the fare formulas stuck since the privatisation of the rail network – there has recently been a fare review to attempt to look at some of these “quirks” and to try to bring sense to the rail ticketing system
LNER will begin a trial in January 2020 of a new fare system designed to make travelling on trains simpler and clearer.
The train company will remove return tickets will be on trial routes in their place passengers will be able to purchase cheaper single-leg tickets, which will be more in line with half the price of a return journey.
This trial will apply to walk-up tickets, on selected routes on the LNER network. The routes selected for this trial are:
- London to Leeds
- London to Newcastle
- London to Edinburgh
In the Department for Transport’s press release, they give the example of a Super off-peak ticket.
- Super Off-Peak Single – £146.40
- Super Off-Peak Return – £147.40
- During the trial – Super Off-Peak Single- £73.70 (two singles to make a return ticket, £147.40)
In theory, this should allow better combinations with other advance tickets to lower the cost even further
Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps said:
These announcements are vital for providing passengers with a more convenient, flexible and fairly priced experience.
We are also taking action to simplify fares as LNER begins single-leg fares trials next year. This will save many people money with substantially cheaper single tickets, boost customer confidence, and ensure passengers up and down the country get the modern transport service they expect.
LNER Commercial Director, Suzanne Donnelly, said:
“At LNER we are always looking at ways to make travel simpler and smoother for our customers. This trial will be the first step towards giving customers more confidence they are buying the correct ticket for their needs and ultimately making fares simpler.”
Value for the consumer? Shop around
As usual, shop around when buying train tickets. Consider using tools like Split ticketing or Advance rail tickets if you can afford to lock yourself to a particular train.
However, this could bring the farcical single ticket pricing to the end on the rail network.
There is a downside to these changes however – that the rail companies could lose the sweet revenue of an expensive single ticket. How they will seek to make up the money lost will be something every passenger needs to keep an eye out for.
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