Flexi Season Tickets 2021 - Outline letter

This page contains an outline letter for you to copy and tailor and use to send to your MP - or indeed anyone you think appropriate.

If you need to find them, MP contact details can be found from many places, including the UK Parliament website and theyworkforyou.com. Remember to include your postal address so they know you are their constituent.

Dear _

I am a member of Railfuture and am writing to you to endorse their ideas for more flexible rail fares for the intermittent workplace attender - something that I believe needs to be in place for the 'return to the workplace' once Covid-19 restrictions start to ease.

Railfuture's ideas are set out in full on their website at https://railfuture.org.uk/article1872-Creating-a-flexible-season-ticket-for-2021. A PDF version you can send as an attachment is available here. There is also an accompanying FAQ (link below).

In summary, Railfuture recommends that a rail fare that offers 5 return journeys (10 single tickets) over a fortnight - aimed at the more regular (but not constant) workplace attender is added to the fares range. Price wise, for most stations it would be positioned between the cost of an annual season ticket and existing Carnet products (where available). The existing Carnet concept (lower discount, for a (much) longer period of validity) needs to be made consistent in terms of discounts et al (we are of the view that the Thameslink & Great Northern arrangement offers the best model) and made available from ‘missing’ stations. Where possible (readers already in place etc) our proposition would be a smartcard only product.

In terms of commercial pragmatism, the proposal can be seen as too generous, but I believe that that the portion of workers who want (and will be allowed, or even encouraged) to split their time between the workplace and their home has made a permanent shift and that a fares discount system that is designed mainly for the full time workplace attender will be seen by them as anachronistic and unfair. And the pricing will disincentivise them from using the train as often as they might do; on the other hand, a ‘fair’ price will encourage them to reduce the relevance of cost to travel in terms of setting the number of days of workplace attendance.

There seems to a view in some quarters that sticking to the current fares approach – the main reward going to the constant commuter, with a bit of tinkering at the edges, and similar prices (to the existing Carnets) will encourage many of us to return to the office 5 days a week; I just don’t see this happening. A fares system that offers multiple choices on pricing, dependent on journey frequency will be seen as fair and thus encouraging rail travel. Better that there are more journeys at a lower price, than fewer at a high price – and probably only concentrated on specific days when phrases like "Work together Wednesdays" start to come in existence and the railway has to cope with a one day a week peak.

I ask that you lobby the Department for Transport and HM Treasury to recognise that a rail fares product that encourages more regular - but not daily - attendance at the workplace is an essential addition to rail fares and needs to be quickly created. And that the idea that many constituents will return to the workplace daily is a forlorn hope and should not be part of the recovery strategy.

Yours sincerely

your name

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