Here’s how rail companies are changing ticket prices to adapt to customer needs after lockdown

Travelling on public transport now looks a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic (Photo: Shutterstock)Travelling on public transport now looks a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic (Photo: Shutterstock)
Travelling on public transport now looks a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Travelling on public transport now looks a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic, with face masks compulsory and social distancing measures in place.

Various rail companies across the UK are updating their ticket options, in order to adapt to changes, including different season tickets for those who may now not be travelling into the office as often as before.

Here are some of the changes taking place.

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Great Western Railway hopes to introduce 3 day season tickets

Great Western Railway, which runs services into London from towns and cities including Bath, Cardiff and Oxford, is proposing new three day season tickets, in order to better suit those who may not be travelling into the office five days a week.

The rail network has also said it will offer a 12 day pass which can be used at any time over a 30 day period.

The railway company told the Sunday Times, "Our research suggests commuters will travel, on average, into work three days a week, rather than the current five."

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: "A get-back-to-work message has got to be matched by the get-back-to-work rail products to underpin it.

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"The only certainty about the future is that there will be less travel to work. I think the annual season ticket, except for a very few people, is probably pretty much dead."

Northern Rail introduces ‘flexi’ season tickets

Northern Rail has launched the region’s first smart ‘flexi’ season tickets, as more passengers return to the railway as lockdown eases.

This move comes as part of a bigger drive to deliver London-style contactless payment systems across the North’s public transport networks.

The new season tickets, which are now available, are initially available on Northern and LNER services between Leeds and Harrogate stations only. The tickets are loaded to smartcards and give passengers 10 unlimited travel days for the price of nine. They are valid for six months.

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These tickets are planned for rollout on further routes and allow for flexibility at a time when passengers may be unlikely to return to a five day per week commute.

A recent Transport Focus survey of passengers showed that over one third expects work to be primarily homebased from now on, with limited travel to the workplace.

Transport for the North’s (TfN) Director of Integrated and Smart Travel, Jeremy Acklam, said, “The launch of flexi seasons is a major and timely milestone in our mission to transform travel across the North of England.

“Now more than ever, due to the impact of coronavirus on our travel habits, passengers need safer, better value and more convenient ways to pay for public transport. Flexi seasons will provide this for thousands of passengers.”

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LNER turns to simpler and smarter fares

At the beginning of this year, LNER launched a Single Leg Fare initiative to allow customers to select the best ticket options for their journeys more easily, giving passengers the opportunity to ‘mix and match’ the best ticket for each leg of their journey.

The rail company hopes to further build on making rail travel more accessible, with similar and smarter train fares.

A spokesperson for LNER, said, “We are continuing to work with the Department for Transport and industry partners on a range of proposals for simpler and smarter fares for our customers. We believe fares reform is important to make rail travel more accessible.

“Our Single Leg Fares trial launched earlier this year is just one of the ways we are helping customers and we look forward to building on this in the coming months.”

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the company has also removed the £10 change fee for changing tickets and is currently recommending e-ticketing where possible.