“Great British Railways must be bold and ruthless, with a new fares and ticketing system that works for the passenger and sells.”
That’s the message from industry leaders to the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT), which is tasked with setting up a new GBR public body to oversee the rail network and drive forward the Government’s rail reform agenda.
Among GBRTT’s main priorities is its Fares, Ticketing & Retail (FTR) workstream. This aims to develop a more modern retail experience, a rollout of digital ticketing across the network, contactless and pay as you go systems in urban areas, and “simplified, best-available value-for-money options on journeys outside urban areas”.
These changes have been described as ‘quick wins’ for passengers and improvements that can be implemented ahead of legislation being passed to establish GBR on a full legal basis.
However, according to independent fares and ticketing expert Mark Smith (also known as the Man in Seat 61), a more wholesale overhaul is required if the industry is to plug a financial black hole of £2 billion per annum and restore passenger numbers to at least their pre-pandemic levels.
Speaking on February 28, at the first of RAIL’s new three-part webinar series on how rail needs to evolve in the next two, ten and 30 years, Smith advocated a move towards network-wide single-leg ticketing, combined with a massive simplification of fare types.
Independent Rail Retailers Chairman Alistair Lees agreed that the pace of change needs to be quicker. However, he would prefer changes to fares and ticketing to be trialled in a more targeted way on individual routes or regions, before being considered for national rollout.
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■ The second of RAIL’s three-part webinar series will take place between 1030-1200 on March 28. Focusing on the next decade across Control Period 7 and beyond, it will feature speakers from organisations including GBRTT, AECOM, SYSTRA, Atkins and Transport for All. To register for free, visit: bit.ly/3y2kH4T.