Flexible rail season tickets more expensive for some commuters

Buying tickets on the day is cheaper than the new flexible season tickets for certain commuter routes, customers complained on Monday. 

Workers who only plan to commute a few days a week post-Covid had been promised savings of up to £350 under a major new fares shake up, but many have found it would actually cost them more.

The so-called “flexi” season tickets can be used from June 28 and allow travel for eight days over a 28-day period – the equivalent of twice a week. 

They come as workers across the country prepare to switch permanently to working from home part-time after successfully managing their jobs remotely during the pandemic. 

However, analysis by The Telegraph uncovered a string of journeys into key commuter hubs that have fallen foul of the wild variations in ticket pricing that besets Britain’s railways. 

Commuters from Brighton to East Croydon were dismayed to discover a flexible season ticket would cost £30.30 per day, but an anytime day return is available for £27.70.

“An unfortunate passenger who believed the hype about saving money would actually end up spending more,” one commuter who uses the route wrote online.

Govia Thameslink Railway said the cheaper fare only applied to Thameslink services and meant commuters would not be able to catch the twice-hourly Southern services running from Brighton. 

Other customers found that, while an anytime day return ticket was more expensive than a flexible season ticket per day, this was not the case for two single fares for specific trains.

flexible rail season ticket

Commuters between Warrington West and Manchester were offered a flexible season ticket worth £11.18 per day, but The Telegraph found single tickets available during rush hour both on the day and for future dates on the National Rail website, amounting to a £10 return. 

Similarly, a journey between Colchester and London would cost £51 per day with a flexible season ticket, but between £22 and £32 for two single fares during peak times. 

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents rail operators, said the Government set prices, not the train companies.

Robert Nisbet, of the RDG, said: “Flexi season tickets are a step in the right direction, but rail companies want to go even further with regulatory reform of the fares system to get the most out of tap-in, tap-out technology so that passengers can get the best deal, whenever they choose to travel.”

The Department for Transport said the flexible season ticket will offer a minimum discount of 20 per cent on an equivalent monthly season ticket.

A spokesperson added: “Flexible season tickets will offer most two-and-three-day-per-week commuters savings against buying daily tickets or traditional seasons.

“We have always been clear that passengers should consider which product best suits their journey and travel pattern. This will be easier than ever with the updated season ticket calculator.”

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