My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Tom Harris) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
I am announcing today that a new, simple zonal fares structure will be introduced for train travel within London from January 2007. The Future of Rail White Paper, published in 2004, announced our intent to work with the Mayor on rationalising fares and ticketing technology within the Greater London Authority (GLA) boundary. At the moment, there are several thousand individually priced station-to-station rail fares within London. The system is complex and a barrier to introducing smartcard technology to train services within the capital.
We have changed the franchise agreements of those train operators setting fares within London, to require them to replace the many different individually priced fares with a simple set of London-wide zonal fares. The new fares will be based on the same familiar zones already used for Underground and travelcard fares. Operators will be required to set peak single, peak return and off-peak return fares for journeys wholly within London on a zonal basis from January 2007. Operators will be required to set rail-only seasons on a similar zonal basis from January 2010.
The prices for the new zonal peak singles and returns—and from 2010, seasons—will remain subject to the limits set by fares regulation. As a result, London commuters will on average pay no more using the new zonal fares than they would have done had current fares continued and been increased as permitted by regulation. Operators will not make a net gain from the change in these fares.
The new fares mean that the same fares will apply in all parts of London. Passengers who have been paying fares below the London-wide average may find the new fares higher, whereas those currently paying higher-than-average fares are likely to find the new fares lower. Prices are being published today on the DfT website, and will be placed in the Libraries of the House.
This simplification of London rail fares paves the way for Oyster pay-as-you-go smart ticketing to be rolled out across national rail in London over the next few years. As interoperable smartcards based on the Department for Transport-sponsored ITSO (Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation) standard are rolled out outside London, passengers will be able to benefit from national through-ticketing on all modes of travel to deliver truly seamless journeys.