You'd think buying a train ticket would be easy. It is if you're at a kiosk with a living person inside, since they do all the hard work and you stand there for five minutes while they use whatever slow operating system their machines run on. But the number of times I've accidentally bought a single from the automated machines is absurd. But does that say something about how much attention I pay to things or the state of the machines themselves? Maybe it's me, but the rail companies think it might be the way the ticketing system is set up.
The country's rail companies are launching a consultation into changing the way rail fares work, with the Rail Delivery Group (which represents the rail companies and Network Rail) claiming there are 55 million different ticketing options within the current system. The idea is to simplify and upgrade the "outdated" system, and make it easier and fairer for passengers to get around. The RDG has admitted that "long-standing anomalies" within the system mean passengers aren't always given the cheapest ticket price, examples of which include having to pay peak prices when half a journey is during off-peak times. Also mentioned was split ticketing, which happens when buying multiple tickets on a single journey works out cheaper than buying the whole thing.
The RDG has also promised that ticket prices won't rise as the result of any reform, nor will it require extra money from the taxpayer.
The consultation is set to launch next month and will run until September, with the final report being submitted to the government for consideration. According to the RDG a new system could include integrated tickets that also cover other forms of public transport, and more flexible tickets for part-time workers.
Hopefully it'll also ensure rail companies will be more open about what are peak and off-peak train times, alongside an actual explanation of exactly what a Super Off-Peak ticket involves. [BBC News]