Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Sunday, 18 May 2008 13:26 UK

New rail ticket system launched

Passengers board train
Atoc says passengers wanted a simpler system of tickets

Rail passengers pre-booking trips will now be issued with an "advance ticket" as the first phase of a new ticketing system comes into operation.

The ticket replaces discounted offers such as Leisure Advance, Business Advance, Value Advance and Apex.

Train operators say this will make the system simpler for passengers and plan to bring in more changes in September.

But the change will see an increase in charges for some who want to rearrange a ticket they have booked in advance.

The number of UK rail journeys has risen more than 40% in the past decade.

Fee changes

The changes will mean an end to refunds on advance sales and, for some, a doubling of the fee for changes to journey times to 10 per journey leg.

There will also be changes for railcard holders.

The percentage discount afforded by Young Persons, Family and Friends, Senior, HM Forces and Disabled Persons railcards, will now apply to all tickets bought in advance, which was previously not the case.

A further change is that the 50% child discount also now applies to all advance tickets.

Transport campaigner's view on new rail ticket system

On 7 September a second phase of changes will take place, with tickets that can be bought right up to the date and time of travel being split into two categories - Anytime and Off-peak.

Anytime tickets can be bought up until the time of travel and used on any train without peak-hour or other restrictions.

Off-peak tickets can also be bought up until the time of travel, but will carry restrictions on the time and day of travel - current ticket types which will be re-named Off-peak include Saver and Cheap Day returns.

'Not about fares'

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said the move was "nothing to do with the cost of fares" but was meant to simplify the system for passengers.

"Passengers have told us that they want a simpler fares system. We are listening and responding," said David Mapp, commercial director of Atoc, when the plans were announced.

New ticket names
Advance - discounted, advance-bought tickets
Off-peak - tickets bought up to time of travel, but with restrictions
Anytime - tickets bought up to time of travel with no restrictions

"These changes will enable people to buy train tickets more easily and with greater confidence."

But Campaign for Better Transport director Stephen Joseph said the new system could be even clearer.

"It will simplify things for passengers but not as much as I think they should be," he said.

"You'll still have a situation where you'll have confusion about when off peak is, when you can get, walk up and buy a cheap ticket.

"In some cases you've still got confusing restrictions which mean that it's actually quite difficult to get cheap tickets on the railway - particularly at times when people want to travel like on InterCity lines from say Manchester to London."

Rail fares 'set to be simplified'
24 Apr 08 |  Business

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