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Rail industry removes jargon to ensure customers pay the right fare

Posted: 13 August 2018 | | No comments yet

Customers have said that buying the right ticket can be confusing, so the rail industry will use clearer language to improve the system.

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UK train companies are eliminating jargon from tickets and journey information for 500,000 routes in September 2018 to increase customer satisfaction by delivering simpler ticketing.

This is part of the industry’s aim to remove 1.6 million instances of potentially misleading jargon within the next couple of years.

Recent KPMG research found that a fifth (22 per cent) of people do not think it is easy to understand what type of ticket they need to buy and a third (34 per cent) do not trust they are always getting the best deal available.

In response, the rail industry is trying to produce more clarity. The latest changes mean that in total since February 2017, all 14,000 uses of ‘Route Direct’ and over 670,000 (13 per cent) uses of ‘Any Permitted’ will be removed where there is only one way to travel or replaced with the name of a major station where the customer must change train.

Rail companies are also changing ‘London Terminals’ to specify the single London station the fare is valid to on the ticket, or when it is valid to multiple stations, they are providing supporting data online.

As a result, 91 per cent of passengers using ticket vending machines are now buying the most appropriate ticket for their journey, an improvement of 11 per cent since 2017 according to an ORR mystery shopping investigation published in July 2018. If customers do purchase the wrong ticket through a ticket vending machine and have paid too much, all 17 train companies now have a price guarantee in place and will refund the additional cost.

Jason Webb, Deputy Managing Director of Customer Portfolio at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We know it can be confusing to buy a ticket on the train and that the outdated jargon unique to rail is part of the problem. We are making huge efforts as an industry to make this easier where we can, but to really make fares simpler to understand we need regulatory change. That’s why we’re running a consultation and asking customers to have their say on what they want from the future fares system.”

Changes to ticket wording are part of steps the industry is taking to make fares easier for customers, including the ongoing roll-out of smart ticketing and providing clearer information about peak and off-peak times.

However, to improve and simplify the types of fares available, modernise ticketing systems and develop fare structures to suit the way people work and travel today, old regulation needs to be updated.

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus, said: “Rail passengers find fares and ticketing complex and confusing. Action to remove jargon is a significant step towards a fares system that passengers find easy to use. However, over the longer term some more fundamental reforms are still needed if train companies are ever going to enjoy the trust of the travelling public. The current consultation will make sure passengers’ views are heard as the industry works to reform its complicated fares system.”

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