Train firms are to remove ticketing jargon from 500,000 routes this September, as part of a wider pledge to deliver a simpler fares system.
It forms part of an initiative to increase customer satisfaction and ultimately eliminate 1.6 million instances of potentially misleading terms over the next two years.
In a statement, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said it’s “working hard to bring more clarity” to consumer.
Since launching the reform project in February 2017, the scheme has so far seen 14,000 uses of ‘Route Direct’ and over 670,000 uses of ‘Any Permitted’ tickets scrapped in cases where a) there’s only one way to travel or alternatively replaced with the name of a major station the train passes through.
Rail operators are also changing ‘London Terminals’ to specify the single London station the fare is valid to on the ticket, or when it is valid to multiple stations, they are providing supporting data online.
It follows recent research by consultancy firm KPMG that found that a fifth of people do not think it is easy to understand what type of ticket they need to buy for their journey and a third do not trust that they are always getting the best deal.
Last year, just 29% said they were “very satisfied” with the ticket-buying experience.
Speaking on improvements to date, the RDG said 91% of passengers using ticket vending machines are now buying the most appropriate ticket for their journey, an improvement of 11% since last year.
If customers do purchase the wrong ticket through a ticket vending machine and have paid too much, all 17 train companies now have a price guarantee in place and will refund the additional cost.
Changes to ticket wording are part of steps the industry is taking to make fares easier for customers, including the ongoing roll-out of smart-ticketing and providing clearer information about peak and off-peak times and about how people can use their ticket.
The RDG said to improve and simplify the types of fares available, modernise ticketing systems and develop fare structures to suit the way people work and travel today, decades old regulation will need to be brought up to date.
Jason Webb, at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We know it can be confusing to buy a ticket on the train and that the outdated jargon unique to rail like ‘London Terminals’ or ‘Any Permitted’ is part of the problem.
“We are making huge efforts as an industry to make this easier where we can, but to really make fares simpler to understand we need regulatory change. That’s why we’re running a consultation and asking customers to have their say on what they want from the future fares system.”
Anthony Smith, at watchdog Transport Focus, added: “Rail passengers find fares and ticketing complex and confusing. Action to remove jargon is a significant step towards a fares system that passengers find easy to use.
“This is a welcome step towards banishing Britain’s outdated and confusing train ticketing system to history. They should also press ahead with other measures such as smart ticketing which should remove some of the difficulty in navigating an overly complex system.”
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