AMBITIOUS proposals for a radical overhaul of the UK’s train fares system have been welcomed by Droitwich Rail User Action Group.
The blueprint followed the biggest ever UK nationwide rail survey undertaken by more than 20,000 people nationwide and 1,322 from the West Midlands where rail travel demand is growing faster than anywhere else in the country.
More than 80 per cent of those asked in the region backed the changes which would make it easier for people to find the cheapest and best fares and introduce a ‘tap-in, tap-out’ pay-as-you-go system to make tickets and costs more flexible. The recommendations say there should be just one ticket for travelling across trains, buses and trams.
Customers would receive a ‘best fare guarantee’, always getting the best value tickets.
People who bought season tickets would also only pay for the journeys they made, rather than a whole week’s or month’s worth of travel as they do now.
And powers would be devolved to help local political leaders have more control over the transport systems in their areas.
Technology would also play a big role in the reforms with more online accounts, smartcards and smartphones being used to make ticket buying simpler.
Alan Humphries, from the Droitwich Rail User Action Group, said: “If they go ahead it will be absolutely brilliant.
“It has been so difficult for so long to find the best fares, even for people who are well-informed about the railways.
“The tap in, tap out system would save so much time by reducing queuing time.
“Currently you have to allow at least an extra five minutes every time you go to a railway station.
“We have the technology so we might as well use it.”
The ‘Easier Fares For All’ proposals from Britain’s rail companies were unveiled on Monday by The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) in partnership with watchdog Transport Focus.
The RDG said the changes would mean savings for a lot of people and overcrowding significantly reduced on some of the busiest long-distance services.
It called for preparatory work to begin now through Government, rail industry and passenger groups looking at regulations and a series of trials of the new system. The reform would then be rolled out across the UK in the next three to five years.