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Train ticket discounts and flexible season tickets should be launched to help Brits get back to work, rail watchdog says

TRAIN passengers should be offered discounts and flexible season tickets to help Britain get back to work, a rail watchdog has urged.

Transport Focus is urging the government and train companies to offer better value deals ahead of tomorrow’s announcement on fare increases.

It comes as research by the independent watchdog has found that of those who commuted by train prior to the coronavirus crisis, around two in three expect to continue to work from home more often in the future.

Currently, a majority of train firms offer weekly, monthly or annual season tickets.

Last month Great Western Railway proposed a new “three days in seven” season ticket.

Transport Focus is now calling for a radical shake-up of the fares system, following similar suggestions last month.

The watchdog said the government should reform the fares and ticketing systems to offer better value for money.

It said this should go beyond a fares freeze, rather than the rise in line with RPI, and include the roll-out of more flexible season tickets for people returning to their place of work part-time.

Passengers should also be offered “substantial” discounts to entice passengers back to rail travel following the pandemic, starting with the “Head Out to Help Out” scheme, it added.

In August, diners can get 50 per cent off restaurant meals and soft drinks thanks to the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

This is an aim to boost the struggling hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “People’s feelings about travel, and the way they use public transport, have changed.

“While the rail leisure travel may bounce back, our research tells us almost two in three former rail commuters expect to work from home more so we will probably now travel less for work, both commuting and on business.

“The government needs to get train companies to offer a combination of cut-price deals, carnet style ‘bundles’, flexible season tickets for commuters and better value for money fares across the board.

“To get Britain moving again in the coming months, tickets that fit the way we live and travel now are needed, not just season tickets designed for city gents in the last century.

“Like the government’s restaurant deal, we need a ‘Head Out to Help Out’ campaign to help get the country on the move again, boost the economy and reduce traffic on our roads.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport told The Sun: “Passengers deserve punctual and reliable journeys at a fair price.

“That is why we are investing billions into modernising the network and working with industry to try to provide commuters with more flexibility and better value.”

In March, franchise rail operators were offered the chance to transfer all revenue and cost risk to the government to avoid firms collapsing due to coronavirus.

Around the same time, the government and train operators also agreed to cut services as passenger numbers fell.

We explain how to get a refund on season tickets, train tickets and Oyster cards.

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