UK train tickets could be structured like plane seats in major shake-up
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It could soon become the norm where UK train tickets will be structured like plane seats in a major shake-up on the railways.
Earlier this week, a report from the Telegraph suggested that return tickets would be scraped under a new digital ticketing system introduced under the reforms of the British rail system.
While the idea of not buying a return ticket is unheard of to many, London North East Railway (LNER) actually tested out the idea in 2020.
The successful pilot sold just single-leg tickets on some longer journeys such as London-Edinburgh.
Now, transport secretary Mark Harper has announced that fares on some long-distance trains run by LNER on the East Coast line would fluctuate on price according to availability - very much like plane tickets.
Harper also said on Tuesday (7 February) that the company would move towards scrapping return tickets across all of its network, a test to see whether this could be rolled out to the wider rail network.
With the potential removal of return tickets, many passengers have raised concerns over possible price increases.
Typically, if you are to return to the station that you originally travel from, purchasing a return ticket is cheaper than buying two singles.
But if the option for a return ticket is no more, then will money be coming out of our pockets as a result?
Well, according to the Department for Transport, the new system should reduce most single fares in price, which would actually work out at the same price of a return ticket.
The ticket shake-up will also introduce more contactless and pay-as-you-go fares for train journeys across the south-east of England.
In his speech to rail industry leaders, Harper reaffirmed his plans to create a new Great British Railways to act as 'a guiding mind to coordinate the entire network'.
He described the current rail network as a 'broken model' that is 'financially unsustainable'.
Harper added: "Left untreated, we will drive passengers away with poor performance, which leads to fewer services, which will drive more passengers away and so on and so on.
"Only major reform can break that cycle of decline."
Meanwhile, Louise Haigh, shadow transport secretary, said: "Whichever ticket you buy, passengers are paying more for less under the Conservatives’ broken rail system.
"Thirteen years of failure has seen fares soar, more services than ever cancelled, while failing operators continue to be handed millions in taxpayers’ cash."