Free or discounted travel for children and young people will be introduced on Wales and Borders rail services in 2020.
Children aged under five currently travel free. This will be extended to all children aged under 11 years. The offer may be of limited use to parents and grandparents, however, because most fares for an adult travelling with a child are cheaper with a Friends and Family Railcard than the equivalent adult fare on its own. A Transport for Wales spokeswoman said: “The target market for the under-11s free travel is those people who do not have a Family Railcard and undertake discretionary family leisure trips, including those who might otherwise take the car.”
Young people aged 11 to 16 will have free travel on off-peak trains. No other time restrictions will apply, for example when international rugby matches are held in Cardiff. Valley Lines trains are already busy on weekends throughout the year. While there are large amounts of free off-peak capacity during weekdays, under-16s are in school on most weekdays.
“Whilst we expect some increase in demand, we do not expect a material adverse effect on overcrowding,” said the spokeswoman. “Over the off-peak generally, there is a lot of spare capacity.”
In the Senedd on Tuesday, transport secretary Ken Skates indicated that other restrictions would apply. “We’re also going to be offering free off-peak travel to 11 to 16-year-olds that are accompanied by an adult on some services,” he said.
Young people aged 16 to 18 will be entitled to half-price travel. This mirrors the discount for the same age group under the Welsh Government’s MyTravelPass (MTP) bus scheme, for holders of the free MTP card. There are currently no plans for the same card to be used to demonstrate entitlement on the trains. A crucial difference between the schemes is that MTP is for travel within Wales only, except on some cross-border buses, but the rail offer will be valid on some rail journeys wholly in England, such as Crewe-Shrewsbury, and Hereford-Shrewsbury. “The offer would apply everywhere the ODP is the lead operator, so all flows wholly within Wales and the vast majority of cross-border journeys,” said the spokeswoman.
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