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LETTERS Mr Lobby and the 10 shilling train fare to Pevensey Bay

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Huw Merriman urges constituents to have their say in the first ever public consultation on rail fares

Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, has welcomed the launch of the consultation by Britain’s rail companies, working with independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus, for customers, businesses, passenger groups, employees and the public to have their say about what the fares system should look like.

The consultation follows a survey of rail customers carried out by KPMG on behalf of the rail industry. The report finds that in the South East and East of England only 36% of customers are very confident that they have the best value rail ticket.

Fare regulations have remained largely unchanged since they were first introduced in 1995 and assume that all customers will buy their ticket by visiting a ticket office. Further layers of requirements have been added through individual franchise agreements, with little or nothing taken away.

This means that long-standing anomalies are becoming locked in, resulting in bigger problems for customers, and there are now around 55 million different fares.  Regulations have also failed to keep pace with the rise of smartphone technology or how people work and travel today, with part-time working and self-employment having increased by over a third in 22 years.

Responding to the launch of the consultation Huw said:  “With 55 million different fares options, buying rail tickets can be a confusing process often leaving my constituents wondering if they’ve got value for money. It is great to see the rail industry grasping the nettle and tackling this issue head on. We need to ensure that customers have confidence that they are buying the tickets that are right for them, which is why I am encouraging my constituents to have their say in reforming the fares and ticketing system.”

Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “This consultation will ensure the views of passengers, communities and businesses will be represented when we present our proposals to governments later this year. Reforming the rules about how tickets are sold and bought has the potential to transform the buying experience for customers, making it easier for people to be confident they are getting the right ticket. These reforms support what the industry is already doing to make improvements to fares alongside record investment in new train carriages, upgraded stations and extra services.”

Consultation responses can be given by visiting www.britainrunsonrail.co.uk/fares. The hashtag for the consultation is #easierfares.