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Rail Fares

Volume 639: debated on Thursday 19 April 2018

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, by the end of 2018, almost all passengers will have the choice of a smart ticket, making buying a ticket easier and giving passengers much greater choice.

What plans does the Minister have to ensure that split ticketing does not erode trust in the rail fare system? How can he ensure that ticket machines on the East Lancs line provide the cheapest option to passengers when there are not necessarily offices to buy tickets from?

Simplification of ticketing and ease of understanding for passengers is extremely important, as is ensuring that passengers have access to the fares that are right for them. It is important that train operating companies look carefully at their ticketing arrangements to ensure that that is the case.

Simpler may be cheaper, and there may also be circumstances in which it leads to cost increases. It is important that we achieve a system that is comprehensible, in which passengers do not have to struggle for hours to work out which ticket is the right one for them. Following the 2016 fares and ticketing action plan, we introduced advance tickets for sale on the day of travel that benefit hundreds of thousands of passengers.

I am grateful for the Minister’s letter of this week, saying that his Department is taking on extra resource to simplify the fare structure on the Brighton main line. Will he reassure passengers in the area that that simplification will involve the rounding down of fares, not just rounding up? Will he also tell passengers when they can expect the review to complete?

I can indeed confirm that the Department has taken on additional resource specifically to address the anomalies within the Govia Thameslink Railway fare structure. As the hon. Gentleman said, there will be a review in order to simplify the structure, with particular reference to complications on that route. We are working with GTR to achieve this as rapidly as we can.