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Flexible train season tickets go on sale

Train passengers in England can buy flexible season tickets from Monday as part of an overhaul of rail travel.

The scheme offers savings on certain routes for people who travel two or three days a week.

They are the first step in major reforms of the railways announced last month in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.

Two-days-a-week commuters using flexible season tickets could save more than £260 travelling from Woking to London £230 from Liverpool to Manchester, and £170 from Stafford to Birmingham according to Department for Transport (DfT) analysis.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 14, 2021: Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps leaves Downing Street on June 14, 2021 in London, England. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to announce today a delay of up to four weeks to lifting of Englands Covid-19 restrictions in an effort to tackle the rise of infections caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which now accounts for more than 90% of new cases in the UK. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)© Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 14, 2021: Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps leaves Downing Street on June 14, 2021 in London, England. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to announce today a delay of up to four weeks to lifting of Englands Covid-19 restrictions in an effort to tackle the rise of infections caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which now accounts for more than 90% of new cases in the UK. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

A passenger travelling to work three days per week from Chelmsford to Stratford, east London, could save in excess of £350.

The savings are compared with the cost of daily tickets.

The paperless flexible tickets, which can be used from June 28, will allow travel on any eight days in a 28-day period.

Passengers can use an updated season ticket calculator at www.nationalrail.co.uk to find out which ticket they should purchase based on their route and working pattern.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 12: Early morning commuters pass through Stratford station in East London on May 12, 2020 in London, England. The Prime Minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)© 2020 Getty Images LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 12: Early morning commuters pass through Stratford station in East London on May 12, 2020 in London, England. The Prime Minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

To encourage more people to travel to rail, train companies will allow passengers who buy an Advance ticket for a specific train to rebook or receive rail vouchers without an admin fee until the end of the year if their plans change.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our railways work best when they are reliable, rapid and affordable.

“As we kickstart the biggest reforms to our railways in a generation, flexible season tickets are the first step. They give us greater freedom and choice about how we travel, simpler ticketing and a fairer fare.

“With a season ticket calculator to see which option works best for you, and a book with confidence guarantee to make journeys stress-free, the future of fares is flexible.”

STOKE, ENGLAND - MAY 20: People make their way on and off the Arriva Cross Country Train at Stoke-on-Trent Train Station on May 20, 2021 in Stoke, England. The British government has created a state-owned body, Great British Railways (GBR), that will set timetables and prices, sell tickets in England and manage infrastructure, but private operators will still be contracted to run most trains. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)© 2021 Nathan Stirk STOKE, ENGLAND – MAY 20: People make their way on and off the Arriva Cross Country Train at Stoke-on-Trent Train Station on May 20, 2021 in Stoke, England. The British government has created a state-owned body, Great British Railways (GBR), that will set timetables and prices, sell tickets in England and manage infrastructure, but private operators will still be contracted to run most trains. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The introduction of flexible tickets comes amid changing travel patterns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An increase in home working has led to a huge decline in the number of people travelling by rail, particularly those commuting rail five days a week.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group – which represents train operators, said: “We’ve worked with Government to introduce the new Flexi Season ticket, which goes on sale today, to give commuters the freedom and flexibility to divide their time between home and the office.

“The rail industry is helping people travel and book with confidence by providing better journey information, boosting cleaning and helping them change a booked journey fee free should their circumstances change.”

A Southern Rail train leaves Clapham Junction station in London on May 20, 2021. - Britain today unveiled long-awaited reforms of the country's railways, including a new centralised price and reservations system, but insisted it was not backtracking on privatisation started in the 1990s. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)A Southern Rail train leaves Clapham Junction station in London on May 20, 2021. – Britain today unveiled long-awaited reforms of the country’s railways, including a new centralised price and reservations system, but insisted it was not backtracking on privatisation started in the 1990s. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Anthony Smith, chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Some passengers will welcome today’s new flexible tickets and discounts. This will be useful in helping people choose rail again.

“Our research with passengers showed us there was strong demand for a new ticket that suited people who expected to commute less frequently in future.

“This is a positive step towards much-needed longer-term reform of how rail tickets are sold.”

Tickets offering discounts for part-time commuters were already available in Scotland and Wales.

Commuters wearing face coverings due to Covid-19, but pulled down under their chins, exit the carriage of a Transport for London (TFL) Underground Victoria Line train at Euston station in central London on June 6, 2021. - The Delta variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in India, is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the last wave of infections in the UK, Britain's health minister said Sunday. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)Commuters wearing face coverings due to Covid-19, but pulled down under their chins, exit the carriage of a Transport for London (TFL) Underground Victoria Line train at Euston station in central London on June 6, 2021. – The Delta variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in India, is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the last wave of infections in the UK, Britain’s health minister said Sunday. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail will lead to the creation of a new public sector body named Great British Railways (GBR), which will own and manage rail infrastructure, issue contracts to private firms to run trains, set most fares and timetables, and sell tickets.

Rail franchises were effectively ended when the Government took over the financial liabilities of operators in March 2020 to keep services running amid the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, at a cost of £12 billion.

The emergency agreements will be replaced by passenger service contracts, with GBR contracting private firms to operate trains.

Source: Independent.co.uk

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