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Equalities and Rights Equalities and Rights

Review rail ticketing, removing complexity and perverse pricing

Last updated: 11:41am 24 January 2019

We will review rail ticketing, removing complexity and perverse pricing, and introduce a passenger ombudsman to stand up for the interests of rail users suffering a poor deal.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.60

Our verdict

There are over 500,000 complaints about train services every year from dissatisfied passengers. Ticket buying is the fourth most complained about area, after punctuality, on-board facilities and insufficient seating. This policy is a promise to review and simplify rail ticketing.

In December 2016, the Department for Transport launched the Action Plan for Information on Rail Fares and Ticketing. It addressed four key areas of the ticket buying process:

  • how people choose their ticket
  • what they buy
  • where they buy
  • how they buy

In December 2017, that plan was reviewed. The review concluded that there had been progress in each of the four areas. It also found areas where more work was needed, particularly the issue of ticket sales clashing with engineering works.

In October 2017, the government announced plans for an £80 million smart ticketing rail revolution to enable passengers to use phones, barcodes and smart cards across the rail network, to ensure that “every passenger will have the choice of travelling without a paper ticket by the end of 2018”. That target has been missed and there are questions about what the £80 million has so far achieved.

There has been movement towards fulfilling this pledge so we’re marking it as ‘in progress’. We will continue tracking and consult with independent organisations to see whether “complexity and perverse pricing” of rail tickets is removed. Follow this policy for updates.

Review the facts

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.