The Workers Union has called for train firms to slash ticket prices in a bid to reduce travel costs for commuters.
In an announcement made this morning, a spokesperson for the union said: ‘Commuting costs weigh heavily on family budgets. According to one survey, around 66 percent of Londoners pay an average of £64.19 a week (£3081 a year) to travel to work. Workers living outside the capital (but commuting into London) take an even bigger hit, where plans to increase rail fares by 5.9 percent will mean a fresh blow to their finances.
‘Running rail services in the post-pandemic age isn’t easy, but rail chiefs must consider reducing the price of fares to attract people back to the railways.’
The Workers Union’s announcement comes as train operating firm Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR) announced its intention to offer advanced fares to commuters. This ticket type is usually available for off-peak fares, and is cheaper than paying to “walk up and ride.”
The scheme is currently in a trail phase between Victoria, Clapham Junction and East Croydon and stations south of Three Bridges, near Crawley in West Sussex.
The initiative is designed to combat lower-usage on Mondays and Fridays, when 210,000 and 160,000 people use GTR’s services, compared with 230-250,000 in midweek.
GTR’s customer services director, Jenny Saunders, said: ‘We’ve seen a sea change in travel habits because of the pandemic.
‘Mondays and Fridays are unsurprisingly less popular with our customers because they bookend the week, but our trains are quieter as a result so we want more people to use them.
‘Lower ticket prices, coupled with Southern’s new loyalty rewards scheme, will encourage people back to rail at times when we have more space on board, and they’ll help with the rising cost of living.’
The Workers Union Says…
A study published by Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) has revealed that 95 percent of the London-based office workers they surveyed enjoy some kind of flexible working. But, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) said that they would quit their jobs if this flexibility was removed. Of these, 64 percent said they would consider changing their minds for a pay rise of at least 11 percent.
This blizzard of statistics is important. It shows that without incentives, commuters will stay away from the office until economic conditions improve. Pay rises from employers are one thing, but train operating companies need to consider what else they can do to cut the cost of commuting. Govia have shown that creative thinking is possible in this area – now it’s up to other providers to follow suit.