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Plan for Rail: A flexible approach to national rail season tickets

Williams-Shapps Plan recognises how pandemic has changed working patterns

Mark Moran
20 May 2021
The new flexible ticket will be on-sale on 21 June, for use by 28 June
The new flexible ticket will be on-sale on 21 June, for use by 28 June


A new national flexible rail ticket, matching modern working habits and saving passengers hundreds of pounds, will be available to commuters across England once travel restrictions are lifted.

The new approach forms part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.

The paperless tickets will allow travel on any eight days in a 28-day period, with passengers able to tap smartcards or scan mobiles at the station, with no need to select the days of travel in advance. The government says change has the potential to save commuters hundreds of pounds, providing greater choice and flexibility.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “For many, the idea of travelling five days a week to the office is fast becoming a relic of the past. The future is flexible: passengers want a simple, stress-free option, and new flexible tickets make fares fairer.”

The new flexible ticket will be on-sale on 21 June, for use by 28 June. Exact details of savings will be provided before tickets go on sale. However, the Department for Transport said analysis shows that two day-a-week commuters buying multiple new flexible season tickets could save the following in a year when compared to the cost of daily tickets:

  • over £250 from Woking to London
  • over £200 from York to Leeds
  • over £60 from Southampton Central to Winchester
  • over £160 from Stafford to Birmingham
  • over £220 from Liverpool to Manchester

Three day-a-week commuters could save:

  • over £220 from St Albans City to London
  • over £120 from Bromsgrove to Birmingham
  • over £90 from Weston-Super-Mare to Bristol Temple Meads
  • over £330 from Chelmsford to Stratford

The new national offer reflects the long-term decline in the use of traditional season tickets, with a change in working practices, such as an increase in home-working, having been accelerated by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The Department for Transport said that flexible season tickets and greater discounts are just one of a package of measures to reform the railways to put passengers first. The government will explore new ‘design and ride’ standards to eradicate ‘ironing-board seating’, and efforts to ensure fewer repetitious and annoying pre-recorded announcements.

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