RAIL fares are set to be overhauled in the biggest shake-up of ticket pricing in more than 30 years in a bid to stop passengers being ripped off.
Thousands of long distance fares will be dropped from the National Rail database to make sure the cheapest options are always shown to customers.
Under the previous system, millions of passengers were overcharged if they bought a single ticket to cover a journey that involved taking several different trains meaning it was cheaper to buy a series of individual tickets for each leg of the route.
Passengers could save up to 85 by going to the trouble of buying a series of singles instead of one ticket to cover them all the way.
And train companies will be forced to recalibrate ticket vending machines, after a newspaper investigation revealed some charged 100 more for a particular ticket than other machines within the same station.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train companies, said the shake-up is the biggest overhaul since the existing price structure was introduced in 1985.
RDG director of customer experience, Jacqueline Starr, blamed politicians for the confusing system saying it was due to complex rules and regulations built up by governments over decades.
The reforms will be tested on selected routes on Virgin Trains east and west coast services, as well as routes run by the CrossCountry and East Midlands operators.
The trial schemes, which will begin in May, follow an investigation by The Times which exposed price discrepancies when buying different tickets for the same journey.
But Money Saving Expert website founder Martin Lewis blasted the shake-up for not going far enough, he said: When you book a rail ticket, in a station or online, people should be given the cheapest price available at that time for their chosen journey.
These changes will not make that happen. The changes do include split ticketing, but only where you change train. Most of the big ticket train savings come where you dont change.
Rail minister Paul Maynard said: We are working closely with industry on a set of actions to improve fares and ticketing. The ticket-buying experience is all too often complicated and hard to navigate.
Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed plans to simplify the horribly complicated fares system, but called for the introduction of long overdue part-time season tickets.
She also urged rail companies to protect station staffing levels, insisting ticket vending machines cannot replace trained, visible members of staff.
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