Train operator c2c has launched what it says is the country’s first flexible season ticket, saving around 5% compared to the usual peak-time price of daily travel without a season ticket.
The ticket is a smartcard-based product but is not dependent on the beleaguered South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) programme, despite this public investment of some £80m under this scheme.
Passengers using their smartcards at Fenchurch Street
It is designed to provide discounted travel for people who do not travel every day, such as part-time workers.
The new Flexi-Season ticket is a digital carnet of 10 individual tickets that passengers only use when they want to travel.
Each ticket provides a typical 5% discount compared against Anytime Day Returns, with a further 10% discount, in the form of a credit against future purchases, if used to travel off-peak.
The company, which is owned by National Express, said the ticket would save some part-time commuters in Essex over £100 a year.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: ‘The launch of the c2c flexible season ticket is great news for passengers.
‘People across the south east are already benefitting from the ease and convenience of smart ticketing provided through the South East Flexible Ticket programme. I am delighted to see C2C have built on this success and have taken up our challenge to develop innovative ideas that meet customers’ needs, saving them money.’
However, a spokesman for c2c told Transport Network that the product is not dependent on SEFT back office technology.
Flexi-Season tickets are purchased online and loaded onto the c2c smartcard by tapping on the ticket gate. They are exclusively available to c2c customers who travel from stations in Essex outside the Oystercard area and last for six months.
The company has produced an online calculator for passengers to work out whether Flexi-Season tickets can save them money.
A Flexi-Season ticket from Southend to Fenchurch Street costs £18.20 compared to the £19.10 cost of an Anytime Day Return. This represents a saving of 90 pence, or around £130 annually.
According to the National Rail website, an equivalent monthly ticket costs £321.50, (around £16 a day for 20 days), and an annual season ticket costs £3,348.00, just over £14 a day for 240 days.
Despite the new ticket costing 95% of the price of an Anytime Day Return, David Sidebottom, passenger director at watchdog Transport Focus, said passengers would welcome it.
He said: ‘This is exactly the sort of new product we want to see smart card technology being used to offer.’