Rail Future congratulates Virgin on its half price ticket offer which is clearly attracting a great many passengers back to the railway.

Despite initial reservations about the offer, Alix Stredwick of Rail Future says:

“I travelled on a Virgin service at the weekend and the trains were full but not uncomfortably overcrowded. The mood of the passengers was clearly affected by the ticket prices - most people I spoke to thought the offer was very good value for money and didn’t mind that the train was packed.”

This shows that if ticket prices are reduced there is a very clear positive effect on both the mood and number of passengers, both of which boost a train company’s reputation and its revenue in the longer term.

Figures from Virgin show that 42,000 extra passengers are now using their trains every day, and 1,880% more calls were made to Virgin's ticket line on the offer's first day.

Rail Future urges the rest of the rail industry to take Virgin’s lead. Some other train companies are putting in place offers to lure passengers back after the slump in numbers following the Hatfield crash, but none are as generous as Virgin.

For instance, First Great Eastern, who run trains from Liverpool Street to Southend, Colchester and Ipswich, are doing a ‘two for one’ offer on Saturday day trips until May.

But Rail Future points out that permanently slashing fares by half across the network would be the most effective way of restoring public faith in the viability of rail as a good alternative to road and air.

Posted by Alix Stredwick