Rail Tickets Simplified... Allegedly

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 120 months ago
Rail Tickets Simplified... Allegedly
Rail tickets

For those piqued by peak fares and confused by the lugubrious lexicon of British rail tickets, some good news: the entire system is to get a thorough shake-up, with a simplified structure introduced to make it easier for passengers to snag the best fare for their journey.

From May, rail travellers will be presented with just three choices: advance, offpeak, and anytime. Gone are the Byzantine days of Apex fares, business first Great Western standard, Pennypacker super-saver overheads, bucket loop-de-loop funfares and all the other arcane ticket types, each with their own Talmudic lore of rules and restrictions, beloved of trainspotters but detested by anybody who actually has to get someplace without being ripped off.

Of course, there's no guarantees that the new system will be any more equitable, and in fact, it has already come in for criticism. Refunds for advance tickets will no longer be offered, and the fee for amendments to journey times will double. And there's no guarantee that station staff will understand the system any better - passengers are still likely to be greeted with the same inscrutable expression when inquiring about the cheapest way of getting from London to Penzance.

And we're still not entirely convinced things will be simpler. An advance ticket - is that a month in advance? A week? An hour? And when does 'offpeak' become 'anytime'? Questions, hopefully, that will be resolved before the new scheme is introduced next month.

Image courtesy of Anyhoo's Flickrstream

Last Updated 25 April 2008

Mr Thant

Both you and the Standard have got this wrong. There'll be a few changes in May but all the new names don't happen until September.

And it is mostly just a renaming - "saver"/"cheap day" becomes offpeak return/off peak day, "standard open" becomes "anytime", and so on.

"Advance" is the same as the discount fares most companies already offer, only the rules will be uniform. Most (if not all) companies already don't do refunds on them.


Mr Thant, we are again indebted to your knowledge of all things rail. It's true, I reported the Standard's erroneous line about the scheme being introduced in May without investigating further. Thanks for clearing that, and the other issues, up.


The Oyster Card needs to be the standard and this whole system needs to be unified.