5 March 2014: This week the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) launched the first new railcard for 30 years.
For 30 quid the Two Together railcard will allow two people to travel off peak and get 33 per cent off tickets around the UK. This is a very welcome introduction as we have been campaigning for more railcards and will hopefully go some way to persuading people to ditch the car and take the train, as for far too long driving has often been the much cheaper way to travel.
Whilst we welcome this railcard we believe this railcard does not go far enough. We have been campaigning for many years for a National Rail card for everybody that would give discounted travel, but our calls have been dismissed by ATOC. We look towards other European countries such as Germany and Switzerland where national railcards for all are available.
The Bahncard in Germany is over 20 years old over 4.8 million people use the 25, 50 or 100 percent discount cards available. This suite of railcards further encourages people to use the train rather than the car, is available to anyone and has proven how a scheme like this can and does work successfully.
Ten years ago RailFuture commissioned a study looking at the impacts of introducing a National Railcard for everyone which found that both the rail industry and rail users would benefit from the introduction of such a card. However, the often glacial progress of change in the rail industry has meant that no such card has been introduced.
The introduction of the Two Together railcard has re-opened the debate for a National railcard for everyone and as I pointed out this week on BBC Breakfast this week, the need for this is greater than ever, as we have some of the most expensive rail fares in Europe. We have also received a fair amount of feedback from supporters about how this card discriminates against single people or lone travellers.
We would really like to know what you think as we are currently gathering ideas and opinion on what you want to us to campaign on. We are in the process of updating our Fair Fares Charter and if you think we should continue to campaign for a national railcard for everyone then please let us know.