UK rail minister Norman Baker has announced that the Department for Transport will run a 2014 competition next year to select a train operator to run a pilot on a busy commuter route into London so it can assess the benefits.
The hope is that, as well as reducing fares for part-time or flexible workers, the scheme could encourage commuters to spread journeys across less busy times. It follows claims government and travel operators are not doing enough to support flexible working.
This could mean discounted tickets for those travelling in the slightly quieter periods at either end of the rush hour – the so-called “shoulder peak”, and the introduction of flexible season tickets to benefit those who work part-time.
Baker said: “It is vital we work smart by harnessing technology and adopting a more flexible approach to ticketing.
Part-time workers and those who sometimes work from home have long complained they have to pay the full price for season tickets even though they do not get the full benefit. Under this pilot we will look at how we can give them a better deal and also reward those commuters who avoid the busiest rush hour services.”
The department has committed £45 million to rolling out smart ticketing across the south east as part of the south east flexible ticketing programme. Once this is under way it will start discussions with a London commuter operator to identify a suitable route and products for the trial, subject to the agreement of satisfactory commercial terms and business case.
The news is part of the DfT’s fares and ticketing review, due to be published shortly.
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