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Virgin Trains has promised a revolutionary new “price-guarantee app” that it claims will save rail passenger £1bn a year.
That sum represents one-11th of the entire fare revenue on the UK rail network.
The new technology, which is due to go live by the end of this year, is claimed to “cut through confusing and outdated ticketing systems to ensure that customers are automatically given the best ticket for their journey at the tap of a button”.
Virgin Trains claims that the app will automatically calculate the best fare, retrospectively, in the same way that Transport for London’s Oyster card delivers savings for travellers in the capital.
The ticket-management system will apply to train operators nationwide. It is intended to allow someone who has a peak-time return but who ends up travelling off-peak to pay the lower fare.
Alternatively, if a customer ended up making multiple journeys where a weekly season ticket would have been cheaper, the system will cap their fares at the price of the weekly ticket.
The train operator says the system will even deliver the benefits of “split-ticketing”, which in some cases can allow travellers to halve the cost of journeys.
On the Virgin Trains service from London Euston to Rugby, passengers who board non-stop trains pay £71 for an Anytime ticket.
But travellers on Virgin Trains that happen to stop at Milton Keynes Central can pay half as much if they buy separate tickets.
Phil Whittingham, managing director of Virgin Trains, said: “We’ve been in the UK rail industry for more than twenty-two years, leading the industry in areas such as introducing automatic delay repay and digital tickets and scrapping the Friday evening peak.
“But we want to do more. The changes we’ve announced today, which align with the Rail Delivery Group’s Fares Reform agenda, could save UK rail passengers around a billion pounds a year, and ensure Virgin Trains continues to deliver for customers whatever happens with the West Coast franchise.”
Virgin Trains expects to go live by the end of the year across the UK.
This article first appeared on www.focustransport.org
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