Reading MP Calls for Rail Ticket Changes

Train companies should look at introducing new ticketing systems to cut the cost of travelling by rail as working patterns change, Reading West's MP has said.

Alok Sharma gave a speech at the House of Commons last night (March 6, 2012) and said many workers were choosing not to commute five days a week and were often carrying out their job from home but faced a quandary about whether to buy a weekly travel card or a separate ticket every day.

Train companies should now offer deals like buying 10 tickets for the price of 12 and offering commuters the chance to upgrade on a train to a premium economy class if they wanted to guarantee a seat.

Meanwhile, expectant mothers should be given the chance to apply for a first-class seat free of charge if there are any spare spaces available, he told MPs.

Changes could also include commuters being charged a different price for a ticket for an express service and local trains which stop at every station along a route, the Commons heard.

Mr Sharma said: "Train operators should also be encouraged to innovate in the way train classes are categorised and perhaps some lessons can be learnt from the airline industry.

"In the airline sector, many operators offer a range of options, including premium economy and I do not see why this cannot be replicated across the railways.''

Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said the Government was committed to keeping rail fares down. She said ministers were already looking at introducing "smart'' ticketing.

She said: "Our vision for a modern customer-focused railway includes smart and more transparent fares and ticketing, where buying a ticket is a straight forward transaction and not an obstacle course and where passengers can choose from a range of fares designed to meet their needs without having to understand every nuance of the underlying fares structure.''