Travel News

Abolishing peak-time train tickets – could it happen in the rest of the UK?

Amazon Prime logo

This week it was announced that Scotland is to abolish peak-time rail fares for a six-month trial, with the only “walk-up” fare for immediate purchase and departure will be the cheaper off-peak ticket.

Train operator ScotRail and the Scottish government are facing a 30 per cent slump in rail commuting due to changes in lifestyle since the Covid pandemic.

So they are cutting fares for rush-hour journeys in the hope that it will encourage people to ditch the car and travel by rail instead.

Savings for rush-hour commuters will range from 20 to 48 per cent, with passengers between Edinburgh and Glasgow seeing the price almost halve, falling by £14 to £14.90.

The experiment has been generally welcomed – with rail passengers elsewhere asking if it could be extended across the UK. For travellers who have no choice but to travel during rush hours, abolishing peak fares would mean these cuts in return prices:

  • Manchester-Leeds down 31 per cent from £39.10 to £27.10.
  • Brighton-London Victoria down 43 per cent from £62 to £34.50.
  • Bristol-Reading down 56 per cent from £172.80 to £75.50.

But it is a complex issue. These are the key questions and answers.

Remind me about peak fares?

During much of the history of passenger railways in the UK – stretching back almost 200 years – the peak fare has been the only fare. Today, they are known as “Anytime” tickets. They can be used at any time on the day shown on the ticket, and also allow passengers to break the journey as much as they like – so between Brighton and London you could stop off at Gatwick airport, East Croydon and Clapham Junction if you so wished.

In practice, the vast majority of travellers simply want to go direct to their destination. If they have the temerity to travel during the morning (and often evening) rush hours from Monday to Friday they are obliged to pay an annoyingly high fare. One such example of many: £135 for a journey of just over an hour from Leicester to London St Pancras.

Off-peak fares are designed to persuade some travellers to avoid rush-hour services, thus reducing crowding, and to entice additional passengers.

More recently, Advance tickets have become widely available – undercutting “walk-up” fares in return for committing to a specific train and giving up the right to break a journey (which hardly anyone uses anyway).

Access unlimited streaming…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…