Ticketing information for rail passengers to be improved

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The rail industry has agreed measures to improve ticketing information for passengers.

Steps will be taken over the next year to make it simpler to buy the best value fares, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

But the Campaign for Better Transport warned that more significant reforms are needed to refine the "insanely complex" system.

In October the Commons' Transport Select Committee published a damning report which stated that "unfairness, complexity and a lack of transparency" in rail ticketing have been apparent for at least a decade.

The measures announced by the DfT include ending jargon such as "any permitted route" on tickets and creating a new online tool to explain restrictions.

Passengers will be able to find out when stocks of the cheapest advance fares are running low, and be given alerts at the time of ticket purchase if they could save money by changing travel times.

Anyone who forgets to take their railcard with them on a journey will be able to claim back additional expenses on the first occasion.

The improvements were developed by the DfT, consumer group Which?, independent watchdog Transport Focus and the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail.

Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The action plan announced today contains lots of small but important steps towards making the rail ticket system a bit simpler and more usable and this is welcome.

"What's missing, however, is the fundamental reform the fares system needs, such as introduction of equal season ticket discounts for part-time commuters and an end to split ticketing.

"Without these larger reforms, we will still be left with an insanely complex and unfair fares system."

A working group will review progress in implementing the plan on a monthly basis, with an interim report published in the Office of Rail and Road's annual consumer report in July, followed by a final report in December 2017.

Rail minister Paul Maynard said: "The ticket buying experience is all too often complicated and hard to navigate and I am committed to working with industry to make it simpler.

"We want a more modern and passenger-focused fares and ticketing system which takes advantage of all the benefits of new technology.

"Rail passengers must be able to trust that they are getting the best possible deal every time they travel."