‘Railway sale’ offers more than a million half-price tickets in April and May Business News

London-Edinburgh for £22 one-way, or less than £15 with a rail pass: this is one of the bargains of a ‘rail sale’ designed to attract travelers to trains.

More than a million deeply discounted train tickets are going on sale as the government and the rail industry seek to repair the damage to trust and revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

From 10 a.m. on Tuesday April 19, travelers will be able to purchase tickets at approximately half price for many journeys from April 25 to May 27 inclusive.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘For the first time ever, rail industry operators are coming together to help passengers facing the rising cost of living by offering up to 50 per cent off over a million tickets on journeys across Britain. ”

The half-price offer applies to Advance tickets, which require pre-commitment to a specific train. For journeys where these are not available, train operators can apply the discount to more flexible off-peak fares.

An advance fare of £44 from London to Edinburgh on LNER should be available at £22. Rail pass discounts still apply, bringing the cost of this trip down to £14.50.

  • From Cardiff to London, a £47 one-way ticket with GWR should be reduced to £25 – or £16.50 with a rail pass.
  • Between Manchester and Newcastle on TransPennine Express, the lowest Advance fare of £20.60 will drop to £10.30.
  • From Wolverhampton to Liverpool with West Midlands Trains, the cheapest Advance fare of £10.50 drops to £5.25.

The Rail Delivery Group – representing rail operators and Network Rail – is coordinating the campaign. Managing Director Jacqueline Starr said: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy rail travel because it’s more than just travel, it’s a way to connect everyone to people, places and to the things they love.”

The number of tickets on offer is insignificant compared to demand before the pandemic, when more than five million train journeys were made every day.

But the government and the rail industry hope the offer will encourage travelers to get back on the rails in greater numbers.

In March, the Office of Rail and Road revealed that rail use in the last quarter of 2021 was down 38% compared to the same three months of 2019.

Journeys made with subscriptions were the most affected: they fell by 69% over the same period. But the new promotion is primarily aimed at leisure travel.

Mark Smith, the former director of British Rail who now runs international rail website, said: “Leisure travel has come back strongly after the pandemic and this is a great move to build on that success. What’s not to love about affordable releases?

“But in terms of the cost of living crisis and the continuing downturn in the commuter market, a permanent reduction in peak fares would be far more helpful than a temporary reduction in off-peak hours.

“The new organization of Great British Railways has yet to put its feet under the table, we have yet to see whether it will seize the opportunity for a major, one-off tariff reform to sort out the overly complex tariff system of the Britain. This will be the real test, no matter how popular a short-term promotion is.

David Sidebottom, director of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘The reduced fares are great news for passengers and will entice many more to try the trains.

“Our research consistently shows that better value for money is one of the key elements affecting rail passenger satisfaction.”

Each train operator will have its own policy on how many tickets to offer and whether to apply ‘blackout’ dates when the half price offer is not available – for example the next bank holiday weekend Saturday April 30 to Monday May 2.

Over the next long weekend, London Euston station – the hub of the West Coast Main Line to the West Midlands, North West England and Scotland – will be closed again, as it has been throughout the Easter weekend.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-19 00:11:30

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