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RAIL BOOKING


WISHING AND H


With reviews into the rail sector underway, BBT takes stock of the current state of booking practices and asks industry experts what they’d want changed


OWEVER GOOD THE MAIN BUSINESS SYSTEMS ARE for booking rail travel, there’s no denying that the British fares system is woefully complex and the way tickets are delivered is not in tune with the 21st century traveller.


There can be literally dozens of fares for any given journey, with the cheapest costing a fraction of the dearest, depending on advance booking, time of day, route, whether you’re prepared to have more than one ticket for the same journey (split ticketing), and the availability of first class on a shrinking number of routes. So most people have welcomed proposals by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), an umbrella organisation for train operators and infrastructure operator Network Rail, to overhaul the fares system – until they drill down into the detail. The overhaul is not as radical as the RDG would have you believe, with train operators not bound by proposals that could take years to implement. The RDG is also promising a pay-as-you-go system into major cities to cap the price of season tickets; updating peak hour restrictions to spread demand more evenly; a mix-and-match system of one-way tickets to make it easier when plans change; and a “best fare guarantee” whenever a ticket is bought. The RDG says: “A reformed fares system would also help make the most of technology like online accounts, smartcards


128 MAY/JUNE 2019


accounted for by business rail travel


of this spend goes via TMCs


10% 50%


of total rail spend is


SOURCE: BLACK BOX PARTNERSHIPS buyingbusinesstravel.com


HOPING


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