On the eve of long-promised “flexi season” train tickets going on sale in England, The Independent can reveal that some part-time rail commuters will get no benefit.
From Monday 21 June, tickets go on sale that allow travel on any eight days out of 28 between two stations in England. Passengers can buy them for smartcards or smartphones, and they can be used from 28 June.
The aim is to cut rail fares for commuters who work from home for some of the week or are in part-time employment. As working patterns have changed, rail passenger numbers have collapsed; the most recent Department for Transport (DfT) figures show train usage at barely 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
The DfT is promoting flexi seasons as the first significant benefit for passengers of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, which is intended to reform the railways and in particular the chaotic fares system.
For passengers making the same journey at least two days per week, the aim is to provide a good-value alternative to buying individual “Anytime” day return or an existing season ticket that can be used throughout its validity.
Transport campaigners have broadly welcomed the scheme, though they say they will need to study the detail to verify that the discounts are meaningful. There have been complaints that the ticket “carnets” that flexi seasons will replace typically save only a small percentage.
The new flexible passes will give a discount of 20 per cent or more on a monthly season ticket. But so extreme are the variations in rail pricing that some commuters stand to save hundreds of pounds while others will be better off by continuing to buy individual day tickets.
On East Midlands Railway between Leicester and Nottingham, a monthly season costs £204.30. With a 20 per cent discount, the flexi season will cost £163.40. But occasional commuters buying eight separate round-trips would pay only £113.60 – almost £50 less.
The train operator says: “The new, national, flexi…