A major rail operator plans to bring in a season ticket giving passengers cut-priced travel three days a week, to reflect changed working patterns following the pandemic.
Great Western Railway (GWR) has submitted proposals to the Department for Transport for a flexible ‘three days in seven' ticket, as well as one allowing travel on four days a month.
Although such a ticket would be expected to reflect a similar pricing structure to full-time season tickets, a GWR spokesperson told Transport Network that it had not yet determined the level of discount to be offered.
GWR, which runs trains from London Paddington to the West Country and South Wales, currently advises passengers travelling three days a week that they may be better off with a full-time season ticket, meaning that part-time workers pay proportionately more than full-time ones.
At present, ‘flexible’ season tickets offered by other train operating companies are carnet style tickets offering discounts of between 5% and 10% for bulk purchase of daily returns.
Darren Shirley, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘This welcome move could give people who work and commute flexibly or part-time a fairer deal on train tickets for the first time.
‘With many more people now expected to work from home for part of the week, the Government should insist that all operators offer such tickets, and that they give an equivalent discount to full-time season tickets. Part-time commuters do not need a repeat of carnet tickets that offer little to no savings.’
Anthony Smith, chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus, told the Sunday Times: ‘A get-back-to-work message has got to be matched by the get-back-to-work rail products to underpin it.
‘The only certainty about the future is that there will be less travel to work. I think the annual season ticket, except for a very few people, is probably pretty much dead. People don’t want to rush back to the old way.’
South Western Railway which, like GWR, is owned by First Group, offers a carnet smartcard product offering a 5% discount.
A spokesperson told Transport Network that it is also 'looking into providing flexible products that guarantee best value for part time commuting', but added: 'although season tickets already represent a significant discount over Day Return products for customers travelling fewer than five days a week in many locations'.
The spokesperson added: 'We are also putting together a package of proposals around leisure travel to help stimulate demand following the national lockdown.'