Corporate travel chief hails rail fares overhaul

A rail industry agreement to radically overhaul fares has been greeted as “very good news” by a leading travel management company.

The deal, announced yesterday by the Rail Delivery Group, should end ‘split ticketing’ and simplify fare options for journeys involving multiple train operators. It could ultimately be extended overseas.

Passengers travelling between London and Glasgow or Edinburgh should be among the first to benefit after the group, which represents train operators, announced a series of trials from May on routes including Virgin Trains East and West Coast, East Midlands and CrossCountry services.

There are currently more than 16 million different train fares and the group conceded passengers find the system “baffling”.

Jason Geall, American Express Global Business Travel vice-president for Northern Europe, said: “Buying rail tickets has been unfairly complex for commuters and travellers for far too long.

“This initiative is very good news. The number of different ticketing combinations and the large number of different train operator companies make the system difficult to understand.

“In future, travellers and agents should be able to book a return journey – Glasgow to Lyon, for example – across different train operator companies, on one ticket in a single transaction.”

Geall, who was previously a director at Eurostar, said: “The technology is there to do it, but pan-European collaboration between train operators, technology companies and governments is required to achieve this.

“In the meantime, we’ll work closely with partners to make sure the benefits of this new initiative are understood and integrated into managed travel programmes.”

The agreement to simplify fares was outlined by the Department for Transport last year after the Commons Transport Select Committee criticised the “complexity and lack of transparency” of rail ticketing.

Rail minister Paul Maynard said: “The ticket-buying experience is all too often complicated and hard to navigate.”

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