Consumer champions Which? have carried out a new survey which found that just 1% of people in the UK are able to identify the main types of train tickets available to them.
Additionally, 61% of respondents didn’t know that Advance tickets were non-refundable, and 48% didn’t know they had to be used on a specific train. When asked about Anytime return tickets, 75% were not aware that outbound journeys could be made within 5 days of purchase, and that return trips could be made within a month.
Consumers also displayed a poor understanding of off-peak tickets, with 51% not realising they are only valid outside peak times, and 17% unaware they don’t have to be used on a specific train.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? said “people could be wasting money buying more expensive tickets than they need to because it is so unclear what certain tickets allow them to do,” adding that “train operators have to recognise this is a problem and take urgent action to fix it. If they won’t, the government must step in to sort this out.”
There may be some hope for bewildered and cash-strapped consumers – transport secretary Phillip Hammond recently described the railways as a “rich man’s toy” and Liberal Democrat transport minister Norman Baker has said the railways should be “available for all.”
Unless the government does legislate to simplify tickets and put the brakes on above-inflation price hikes, however, ordinary passengers will be left at a disadvantage, with a scarcity of alternatives for those who require affordable transport.