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Railways: Fares

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 3 February 2009, Official Report, column 1137W, on railways: fares, what reasons underlie the Government's policy on the provision of additional railcard schemes; and if he will make a statement. (256823)

Railcards offer a discount against the full price of travel. They are designed to encourage travel by groups of people who might otherwise be unable to use rail and to encourage social inclusion. In general, railcards are for off-peak travel where there is spare train capacity.

All franchised train operators must accept the Senior Railcard, Young Persons Railcard and Disabled Persons' Railcard. Other railcards are offered commercially by train operators.

Factors in considering any additional railcard would include whether it was likely to reduce the revenue to the railway, and whether it would benefit those on a high income as well as those on a lower income. Fares revenue and subsidy together have to cover the costs of providing the service. We could require operators to offer more railcards but only if Government paid higher subsidies to offset the reduction in revenue. This would reduce the funds available for other things, including investment in train services.