End of the line for cheap tickets as rail fares 'rebalanced'

At three minutes to seven on Friday evening a train leaves London's Euston Station in the direction of Manchester, virtually empty. As its few passengers glide serenely through nearby Watford Junction, the British Transport Police are scrambled to the platform from where it has just come, controlling the mad scrum of passengers fighting for a seat on the train that follows it only minutes later. The former is the last of the pricey "peak" trains, the latter the first off-peak service, and therefore considerably cheaper.

This "fares cliff edge" is just one of many problems that will be under consideration in a full review of rail fares announced by the Government, which may see some ticket prices dropping but others rising.

This review was itself one of several recommendations made in a broader report on rail industry costs by the former Civil Aviation Authority chairman Sir Roy McNulty, released yesterday.

He called for the fares review after concluding that the current system was overly complex and was not managing periods of peak demand as well as it might. The report said: "The study does not recommend an increase in fares revenue overall, but instead envisages some fares increasing and others decreasing correspondingly, within the same revenue total."

As a consequence some sought-after off-peak fares, such as those operating on Friday evenings just as the rush-hour ends, could increase in price.

Responding to the McNulty review, the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said the Department for Transport would conduct "a full review of fares policy, including addressing anomalies in the current system and the potential for much greater use of smart technology".

UK rail fares are already the highest in Europe, with season ticket holders having to fork out for an average rise of the RPI rate of inflation plus 3 per cent in January 2012.

In his review, Sir Roy said rail costs should be 20-30 per cent lower than they were in 2008-09. He proposed cost-cutting measures which could deliver savings of between £700 million and £1 billion annually by 2019.

Sir Roy's report also said wages paid to rail staff were too high and working hours too short, and some ticket offices may have to be "done away with".

The review highlighted 10 key barriers to efficiency in the country's rail system, including the role of the government, the fares structure, and the way in which "major players in the industry have operated". It rejected the need for line closures, but called for "devolution and decentralisation" within Network Rail.

Sir Roy said: "It is an imperative on the industry to give taxpayers and passengers a better deal than they are getting at the moment. The problems we have are substantial but they can be fixed."

The general secretary of the RMT union, Bob Crow, condemned the report, saying: "Attacking staff, ticket offices and jacking up fares, while the train operators are handed gold-plated franchises, is just an escalation of all the worst practices of privatisation."

The recommendations

* There should be no line closures.



* Franchising should be reformed.



* There should be "devolution and decentralisation" within Network Rail.



* A Rail Delivery Group should be set up to "lead a substantial programme of change".



* The use of smartcards should be accelerated.



* The expectation that salaries at all levels of the railway industry will increase ahead of inflation must end.



* The overall trend to continually reduce the length of the working day and the working week is unsustainable.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam