It’s time for flexible ticketing

NE Bedfordshire commuters are getting a rough deal as the Department for Transport has failed to react to the radical changes to travel behaviours caused by the pandemic. Below is my email to Richard Fuller MP on how commuters in his constituency are missing out.

“As you will be aware the nature of work has changed drastically due to the pandemic and the impact of this is likely to last for a considerable time. I’ve been looking at how the rail industry has reacted to this change in terms of flexible ticketing for key workers who have travel to work at this time, but do so on a part time basis. Further, as we come out of the pandemic it is likely that there will be a blended approach to working between the home and office.

Carnet tickets are a flexible option for part-time workers offering a 10% discount on peak and off-peak fares and can be purchased in batches of 10 for the price of 9. You can find more info here: https://www.greatnorthernrail.com/tickets/ticket-types-explained/carnet-tickets

Unfortunately, while stations such as Hitchin, St Neots, Bedford, Letchworth and many others in the region benefit from this flexible and money saving carnet ticket option, it is unavailable at any of the stations (Sandy, Biggleswade and Arlesey) that serve your NE Bedfordshire constituency. The reason for this is due to these stations not having barriers and therefore paper carnet tickets would be open to misuse.

However, other Train Operating Companies (TOCs) have a ticketing system which permits carnet tickets to be loaded on to Smartcards and therefore carnets can be validated at stations with Smart card validators, which virtually all stations now have.

Examples of this are as follows: South Western Railway’s carnet system is explained here: https://www.southwesternrailway.com/train-tickets/ticket-types/carnet Greater Anglia’s system here: https://railplus.greateranglia.co.uk/peak-off-peak-flexipass/flexipass-pk.html and Transport for Wales system here: https://tfwrail.wales/ticket-types/multiflex So it appears that while much of the rest of the region, and indeed the rest of the country, have the benefit of flexible ticketing, our constituency stations of Biggleswade, Sandy and Arlesey are missing out and part-time workers who travel from these stations are getting a rough deal.

I would be grateful if you could draw this to the attention of the relevant decision makers in the Department for Transport and press to make sure that this anomaly is corrected as soon as possible. The world of work has changed, perhaps for ever, I’m sure you agree it’s time the DfT moved with the times as we seek to encourage people to move out of their cars and back onto the railway.”

Julian Vaughan

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