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England and Wales train users to miss out on affordable fares

24 April 2013
Train users in England and Wales look set to miss out on a more affordable approach to ticket pricing being adopted in Scotland. New research from Campaign for Better Transport shows some off-peak journeys would be a third cheaper in England and Wales if the Government followed ticketing policies recently announced by the Scottish Government (1).

The Scottish Government is planning to freeze off-peak fares in 2014 and 2015 and remove anomalies from split ticketing. Split ticketing involves buying two or more tickets for a journey, rather than one. For example, an off peak walk on single from Nottingham to Liverpool costs £48. However, purchasing singles from Nottingham to Manchester Oxford Road and then from Manchester Oxford Road to Liverpool Lime Street costs a total of only £33, a saving of 31%. A walk on single between London to Coventry costs £44.40. Singles from London Euston to Milton Keynes and then Milton Keynes to Coventry total £31.70, a saving of 29%. In both these examples, there is no need change train.

Campaign for Better Transport has written to Transport Minister, Simon Burns, (2) demanding that the review of rail fares due to be published next month follow the Scottish lead freezing ticket prices and removing anomalies where passengers can end up paying vastly differing sums for the same journey.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport said

“The rail fares review must follow the example set by the Scottish Government. North of the border they are making rail travel affordable and simpler. That commitment should be matched in England and Wales, ending fares hikes and simplifying the frustrating and complicated way ticket prices are calculated.”

Stephen Joseph continued

“Straightening out anomalies will be more intricate in England and Wales than in Scotland, but this is no excuse for inaction. We expect the Government’s fares review to set out a route to simpler and more affordable train travel.”


1.Campaign for Better Transport research showing the difference in price for 10 rail journeys can be found on the Campaign's website.

On 2 April, the Scottish Government announced that it would remove anomalies from the ticket pricing system from May 2013. This is in addition to the planned freeze on off-peak ticket prices, announced in December 2012 and the commitment to increasing regulated rail fares by RPI minus 1% for the new Scotrail franchise in 2015. The Scottish Government has also invested in a number of high profile rail reopening such as the borders railway between Edinburgh and Galashiels.

2. On 18 April, Campaign for Better Transport wrote to Transport Minister, Simon Burns, calling on him to remove anomalies from ticket pricing in the England and Wales.

Campaign for Better Transport has also asked its members to contact the Minister with their views on the difference between policies being followed in Westminster an Holyrood.

3. In May, the Government is due to publish its long awaited review of rail fares. The review was established as a result of lobbying from the Campaign for Better Transport and others amid public anger at the spiralling cost of train travel. It was the subject of a public consultation in March 2012.

4. Campaign for Better Transport has undertaken research comparing the cost of rail travel in England and Wales with Scotland over the coming years. Comparisons are based on the decision to freeze off-peak ticket prices and remove pricing anomalies which favour ‘split ticketing’. Examples are set in the attached table.