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UK lagging way behind Europe, when it comes to flexible rail tickets

18 August

The UK lags behind the rest of Europe when it comes to flexible rail tickets, despite having more part-time workers, according to research by Campaign for Better Transport.


The transport charity found 20 European countries where some sort of flexible ticketing is available, including Germany, France, Ireland, Portugal and Estonia. Flexible rail tickets could save commuters thousands of pounds a year and encourage more people to take the train, but despite warm words from the Government and train operating companies, there has been no date set for introducing them to the UK.

With the annual rail fare percentage increase for next year set to be announced today (18 August), Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government and train operating companies to commence the long-awaiting trial of flexible ticketing announced in September 2013 and introduce flexible tickets as a matter of urgency.

Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “There are plenty of European examples of how flexible ticketing can work well, but the UK Government and train operators are dragging their feet, meaning many part-time workers are being priced off the railway. 

"Flexible ticketing offers a better deal for passengers and would encourage more people to take the train, thereby easing the strain on our congested roads. Not only would the UK’s eight million part-time workers benefit from flexible ticketing, but it would also help overcome one of the barriers to employment for thousands more. We need part-time season tickets now, not later.”

Currently commuters can chose to buy a season ticket or single journey tickets. Season tickets only provide savings when used for five out of seven days. If a four day a week annual season ticket was available it could save commuters coming into London £800 on average, with a three day ticket saving an average £1600 a year. Commuters travelling into Manchester could save £230 on a four day ticket and £465 on a three day one. Bristol commuters could save almost £400 on a four day ticket and £780 on a three day ticket.

In the UK eight million people work part-time, four million of those flexibly with over 750,000 on zero hours contracts. 75 per cent of part-time workers are women.


For further information or case studies of part time workers, please contact Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 or richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. European counties that offer some form of flexibly ticketing that is available to anyone are: Germany (German Rail Pass Flexi), Netherlands (Railcard), Sweden (Electronic 10 Ticket), France (OptiForfait Pass), Italy (Carnet), Spain (Multipass), Switzerland (Half Fare Card), Ireland (3 Day Ticket), Northern Ireland (3 Day Select Ticket), Portugal (Flexi Pass), Austria (Öbb Vorteilscard), Belgium (10 Journey Card), Luxemberg (Dagesbilljee), Hungary (START Klub Card), Serbia (Flexipass), Denmark (DSB 10 tickes), Czech republic (in Karta Card), Estonia (Elron Farecard), Finland (Multi Ticket) and Poland (Subscription Ticket).
  2. Working on the basis that a 4 day per week annual season ticket would cost 4/5 that of the current annual season ticket, with a 3 day a week one costing 3/5 and a 2 day a week one costing 2/5, below are examples of the average savings on routes into the selected cities. The full tables of example fares for each city, from which the averages were calculated, are available at the bottom of this press release.
  4 day a week saving on the current annual season ticket 3 day a week saving on the current annual season ticket 2 day a week saving on the current annual season ticket
Trains into London £799.86 £1599.72 £2399.58
Trains into Birmingham £318.16 £636.32 £954.48
Trains into Manchester £232.72 £465.44 £698.16
Trains into Bristol £391.68 £783.36 £1175.04
Trains into Leeds £270.96 £541.92 £812.88
Trains into Liverpool £226.72 £543.44 £680.16
  1. The UK has the fifth highest rate of part time workers in Europe according to the annual EU Labour Force survey 2014. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/tesem100
  2. The Department for Transport announced a trial of flexible ticketing in 2013, which was due to start the following year https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-invest-in-flexible-ticketing-trial
  3. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).