Millions of rail passengers across the country can now buy cheaper “advance” tickets on the day of departure but customers of Derby-based train operator East Midlands Trains are not among them – yet.
This week, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, said that eight firms were now offering the service, which allows customers to buy cheap tickets at short notice.
Advance fares are for a limited number of seats and often sell out. But when they are available, they can offer substantial savings.
Until now, advance fares have generally only been available up until midnight the day before travel. But the RDG said that some train operators were now selling cheaper tickets on the day of travel, claiming that they can be bought as little as 10 minutes before the train leaves.
Advance tickets can potentially be bought on the day with CrossCountry, Grand Central, Greater Anglia, Northern, Transpennine Express, Virgin Trains East Coast, Virgin West Coast and Caledonian Sleeper.
They are not being offered on Arriva Trains Wales, South West Trains, Southern, Southeastern, ScotRail or First Great Western.
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As far as East Midlands Trains is concerned it is not yet offering the service – but it said it was planning to run a trial later this year.
In a statement, East Midlands Trains said: “Along with the rest of the industry, we’re committed to making it easier for customers to buy their tickets and travel with us, as well as offering greater flexibility.
“We are planning a trial of the same initiative later this year on selected East Midlands Trains routes as part of our work to improve ticketing.”
Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the RDG, said: “Not everyone can plan journeys in advance and now more people can buy cheaper tickets on the day, even on their way to the station.
“We want customers to get the best possible deal whenever they travel. With 97% of your fare going back into running and improving the railway, investment is driving quicker improvement, more choice and greater freedom.”
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Customers of all long-distance services can now see online how many fares are left at cheaper prices – a measure promised in an action plan for fares and ticketing agreed by the rail industry, government and consumer groups.
Earlier this year, the Office of Rail and Road called on train operators to refund passengers who accidentally pay too much for their ticket when buying it from a machine.
It said the machines cause so much confusion that a fifth of passengers who use them buy the wrong ticket. The regulator said while 7% of people underpay and could be fined, 13% are paying too much.
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It wants train companies to refund passengers who accidentally buy tickets which are too expensive for their journey.
The RDG said train companies, including East Midlands Trains, were working to reform fares through a number of agreed trials which will enable simplification of the fares structure.
Source: Derby Telegraph