A raft of measures to help passengers find cheaper train tickets have been unveiled today, with work on making ticket machines easier to understand and demystifying rail companies' T&Cs among the areas of improvement being targeted over the coming year.
A 12-month action plan, which aims to make buying tickets much simpler and reduce confusion for travellers, has been agreed between the Department for Transport (DfT) and the various rail companies.
It follows a campaign by Which? and Transport Focus - involving consumer groups and sites including MoneySavingExpert.com - focused on how you choose and buy your ticket, what you buy and where you buy it.
For info on how to claim compensation if your train's late or cancelled, check out our Train Delays guide.
What are the aims of the campaign?
There are a number of areas to be improved throughout the next 12 months. We've highlighted the main aims below and how they will be improve options for passengers:
Improvements to help passengers find cheaper train tickets
|Area||What will change|
|Finding cheaper tickets||Customers will be told if they can get a cheaper ticket by changing their travel time and websites will include tools to find the cheapest fare|
|Railcards||On the first occasion a customer forgets their railcard, they will be able to claim back any additional costs such as a new ticket or penalty fare|
|Ticket machines||Jargon such as 'any permitted' and 'London Terminals' will be removed to make ticket options clearer. Customers will be told if they can get a cheaper ticket by waiting for the off-peak time .Cheaper fares will be more prominent and ticket machines more consistent across the industry|
|On the day advance tickets||East Midlands, Northern, TransPennine Express, Virgin Trains East Coast and Virgin Trains West Coast will allow customers to buy advance tickets on the day. (Currently only CrossCountry allow this)|
|Advance ticket availability||Train companies will highlight when there are less than nine cheaper advance tickets left for long distance routes|
|T&Cs||Customers will get a 'plain English' description of their ticket before buying and there will be a 'what can I do with my ticket tool' so passengers know when and where they can use their ticket. They will also be able to see relevant T&Cs when booking, and signposted to additional information.|
|Sharing information with third parties||The industry has agreed to make more data available to third parties, eg CityMapper, in the hope new apps and tools will be developed to help passengers|
|Third party retailers to get more information||The industry has pledged to share more data on fares with third party retailers, and include them in industry talks, inform them of board meeting decisions and reduce barriers to third party retailers entering the market|
|Train company websites||These will be reviewed to ensure they meet the industry's code of practice, and monitored to ensure they maintain standards|
|Accessibility||The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) will work with the industry to help improve the experience for disabled and vulnerable passengers and raise awareness of passenger rights|
What happens next?
The changes will be introduced at different times during 2017, but will be monitored by consumer groups and the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, and the Office of Rail and Road.
There will be an interim report published in July, and a final report due in December next year.
The 12-month action plan aims have been described as 'quick changes' for passengers, but the DfT also hopes to simplify fares even further and push the introduction of smart-ticketing.