Rail ticket 'revolution' could cut journey prices by up to a third

 

Britain is on the verge of a “rail fares revolution” that could enable passengers to save millions of pounds on published ticket prices for the first time.

Under an agreement reached between ministers and train operating companies, comprehensive ticket price data from across the UK’s railway network is to be made available for free within the next few months.

The new information will allow customers travelling on some routes to make savings of more than 30 per cent on current ticket prices – without passengers needing to change the train they were intending to take. A journey from Birmingham to Edinburgh taken yesterday, for example, would be almost £40 cheaper.

The Independent understands that a secret report for the Government by the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) estimated that the total potential saving to passengers could be in the “high tens of millions of pounds”.

It will go some way to compensate passengers who face rail fare rises of 4 per cent next year.

Under current rules, train companies are not obliged to publicise the cheapest way of getting from one destination to another – only the most direct. But because of the UK’s complex fares structure, there are many instances where passengers can save money on the same journey simply by “splitting” their ticket.

For example, National Rail Enquiries was today quoting a price of £62 for a single journey from Glasgow to Manchester departing at 12.40pm.

However, a customer taking exactly the same trains, could save £18.30 if they bought two separate tickets – one from Glasgow to Oxenholme in the Lake District (£26.50) and another from Oxenholme to Manchester (£17.20) at a total cost of £43.70. The passenger would not have to get off the train at Oxenholme, but simply show the ticket inspector the relevant ticket for each part of their journey.

While the fares data will be too complicated for individuals to process, it will be used by internet developers to create computer and smartphone apps. This will allow passengers to input journey details and automatically find the cheapest fare.

It will also permit customers, less worried about the time their journey will take, to achieve even greater savings by calculating longer, cheaper routes between the same stations.

For example, the cheapest single journey between Liverpool and London yesterday afternoon on the National Rail Enquiries website cost £73.30. However, passengers prepared to change trains in Birmingham and spend an hour longer on their journey, could do the same trip for £53.50 – a saving of almost £20.

Jonathan Raper, who runs the transport data company Placr, said: “At the moment the only information that rail companies provide passengers with is for the most direct route – which is often their most profitable – so they don’t want people to be made aware of cheaper, slower alternatives,” he said.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “People shouldn't need to have a degree to get hold of the cheapest ticket for their journey. That’s why the publication of open fares data will mark a big step forward.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore