The UK Government is set to slash rail fares by 50 per cent to help struggling Brits with the cost of living squeeze.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced more than one million train tickets will be reduced to help Britons afford trips across the UK and boost domestic tourism.
The scheme is run on a commercial basis, with the government’s support and it involves all franchise operators in England as well as Grand Central and Hull trains.
“For the first time ever, operators across the rail industry are coming together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by offering up to 50% off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain,” Shapps said in a statement.
“There’s no better time to visit friends, family or just explore our great country, so book your tickets today.”
Called the Great British Rail Sale, discounted tickets will be available from today for services departing between 25 April and 27 May.
The sale will not apply to seasonal tickets, but only to advance fares or off-peak tickets for companies that don’t offer advance.
While the cost of travelling from Manchester to Newcastle will g down to £10, London to Edinburgh services will decrease from £44 to £22.
Tickets from York to Leeds will cost £2.80 and London to Cardiff £25.
“We want everyone to be able to benefit from travelling by train because it’s more than just a journey, it’s a way to connect everyone to the people, places and things they love,” added Rail Delivery Group’s chief executive Jacqueline Starr.
According to David Sidebottom, director at independent watchdog Transport Focus, discounted fares will push even more people to travel by train.
“Our research consistently shows that better value for money fares is one of the key things affecting rail passenger satisfaction.”
Commenting on the proposal, Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh called the discounts a “small comfort to passengers” following years of “soaring fares.”
“This temporary respite will be small comfort to passengers who had thousands taken out of their pockets from soaring fares since 2010,” she said.
“Working people are facing the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades, and the Conservatives have chosen to hike up taxes and reject a windfall tax on the soaring profits of oil and gas giants.”
The government’s decision runs separate from the 3.8 per cent hike in fares that was decided in December and implemented from March.
The increase, which is below the current inflation rates, was justified as striking a balance between “the needs of the passengers with taxpayers, many of whom don’t use the railway but have helped keep them running during the pandemic.”
“It is the job of the government to strike a just balance when weighing these competing interests,” said a Department for Transport’s spokesperson at the time.