STEVE Knight’s attempt (RM June) to find out what’s going on with fares perhaps unintentionally reveals why passengers feel they are being ‘ripped-off’.
He says that while the TOCs want to remove the ‘expensive, obsolete through fares which in many cases no-one buys’, the ‘vast differential is a revenue risk which will impact on the TOC’s business case’ so there will need to be an assurance or the difference underwritten by the DfT. In other words, the TOCs take the money while the DfT takes the risk.
Train operators admit few people pay the full through fare so, in reality, how much difference is their elimination likely to make?
To describe the current, evolved fare structure as Byzantine would be unfair to that civilisation and architectural style. Anthony Smith of Transport Focus acknowledges the damage hidden, cheaper fares do to the trust between the passengers and TOCs, although his emasculated organisation has little if any power to get anything done.
The mooted replacement of through fares by the sum of the individually priced legs does not appear to be an insurmountable problem and presumably could be introduced quickly.
We are led to believe that the TOCs are – directly or indirectly run – through the DfT, if not exactly nationalised, then surely he who pays the piper calls the tune. So why the lack of information in their response to Steve Knight’s enquiry?
I will believe any change when I see it; after the supposed trials and follow-up reports I would not be surprised to find any delivery stillborn.
Richard Bradford, By email
As we closed for press, there was still no firm news of the promised fare trial, the delay believed to be as a result of the General Election – Ed.
THE fare feature (RM June) did much to confirm the complexity of the rail fare system. I would guess it is running the choice of energy supplier a very close second!
When will Government realise all we want to do is be able to walk up and buy a ticket without spending half a day in front of a screen.
It is not always possible to plan in advance; a family bereavement for instance may not allow for you to fit in with railway company plans.
The complexity of it all put me off train travel a long while ago.
Jerry Robertson, By email
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