A train firm has announced a split ticketing app to help passengers save money on trips, but the industry body has said that it fails to address the real issue.
Virgin Trains is launching a mobile app which helps passengers take advantage of split ticketing to save money on journeys, claiming it could save passengers £1 billion.
Split ticketing involves buying multiple tickets for separate sections of one journey, with a combined price which is less than the standard fare.
In one extreme case in 2017, a Newcastle United fan bought 56 tickets to cover a return journey for him and his girlfriend to travel to Oxford for an FA Cup match, saving him £30.
The app, which will go live by the end of the year, will also introduce a fares cap similar to London’s Oyster card system.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, welcomed the move but said an “industry-wide root and branch reform” of the ticket system is needed.
JAc Starr, chief operating officer at the RDG, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “This move demonstrates that the rail industry is doing all it can to improve fares for passengers within the constraints of outdated fares regulations but we need to go further.
“The industry’s fares proposals would offer passengers more flexibility to mix and match travel according to their needs. They would drastically reduce overcrowding on some of the busiest long-distance trains and remove the need to buy multiple tickets to get the best deal.”
In February, the RDG recommended a series of measures to simplify the system, including an end to split ticketing.
The group said its plan would remove the need for the trick because passengers would always be charged the best value fare.
Britain’s rail ticketing system is underpinned by regulations which are unchanged from the mid-1990s, and have not kept pace with technology or how people work and travel.
Several layers of complexity have been added through individual franchise agreements over the past three decades, meaning around 55 million different fares exist.
“The ticket management system developed by Virgin will automatically and retrospectively allow someone who has a peak-time return but who ends up travelling off-peak to pay the lower fare,” Virgin said.
Virgin Trains managing director Paul Whittingham said: “The changes we’ve announced today, which align with the Rail Delivery Group’s Fares Reform agenda, could save UK rail passengers around a billion pounds a year, and ensure Virgin Trains continues to deliver for customers whatever happens with the West Coast franchise.”