Flexible rail season tickets aimed at commuters who will, as the Covid lockdown eases, only travel into work for two or three days a week were launched on Monday (21 June).
Supplied by National Rail, the tickets will allow unlimited travel between two stations on any eight days in a 28-day period. They are designed to offer savings to part-time commuters travelling during peak hours for part of the week. Commuters can use them from 28 June.
With no need to select the days of travel in advance, the flexible season tickets allow passengers a guarantee that they can alter their bookings with no extra charge if their plans change. There will also be an online season ticket calculator to help commuters find the cheapest options.
Hybrid and flexible working
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, told the BBC the changes would help persuade people to choose rail travel again.
“Our research with passengers showed us there was strong demand for a new ticket that suited people who expected to commute less frequently in future,” he said.
“This is a positive step towards much-needed longer-term reform of how rail tickets are sold. We also welcome the waiving of admin fees for changing tickets, which will help rebuild passenger confidence.”
But rail expert Tony Miles said commuters needed to be cautious because the new system offered a finite number of journeys unlike a true season ticket, which allowed people to travel as often as they liked.
“These really aren’t season tickets,” he told the BBC’s Today programme. “This is a bulk purchase of tickets.
The Department for Transport said the new system was part of efforts to match “modern working habits and saving passengers hundreds of pounds”.
A shake up of rail services is slated from 2023 when a new state-owned body, Great British Railways (GBR), will set rail timetables and prices, sell tickets in England and manage rail infrastructure.
“As we kickstart the biggest reforms to our railways in a generation, flexible season tickets are the first step,” the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said. “They [the new season tickets] give us greater freedom and choice about how we travel, simpler ticketing and a fairer fare.”