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Rail Ticket Information

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 18 March 2010

13. If he will take steps to ensure that members of the public have access to accurate information on rail fares to enable them to decide which tickets to purchase. (322764)

We require National Rail Enquiries and train operators running ticket offices to provide to the public accurate and impartial information on timetables, train running and fares. Both do so with a high degree of accuracy—98.4 per cent. and 99.3 per cent. respectively in the most recent tests to check the accuracy of responses.

I am surprised at the Minister’s figures. Will he not accept that the information available online is still inconsistent, confusing, inadequate and based on the interests of train operators? Do we not need, and will he take action that requires the industry to provide, a simple system based on the needs and interests of travellers?

My right hon. Friend is entirely right to draw attention to the fact that 86 per cent. of inquiries to NRE come from the internet. The ticketing and settling agreement requires train operators to retail accurately and impartially. The journey planning engine, the key mechanism behind the internet site, ensures that the customer can see the cheapest walk-up fare for the times in which they are interested; and the cheapest fare finder facility checks for all the best offers on any particular route. We are working with Passenger Focus and National Rail Enquiries to improve the quality of information so that it shows general explanations of ticket validities—in other words, when off-peak and super off-peak fares are valid.