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Sadiq Khan's off-peak Friday fares start next week for Tube and train passengers

Sadiq Khan's off-peak Friday fares start next week for Tube and train passengers

A trial scrapping peak Tube and train fares is to begin in London next Friday – alongside a host of special offers designed to lure commuters back to the city centre.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that an agreement has been struck with private rail companies to axe peak fares on Fridays until May 31, under a £24million experiment to reverse the slump in passenger numbers.

This will be accompanied by discounts and special deals at cafes and restaurants over the next three months.

There had been fears that Mr Khan’s proposal, first announced at the end of January, would be scuppered by the difficulty of changing fares on a multitude of train routes and how to compensate train firms for a potential loss of income.

All pay-as-you-go Oyster and Contactless fares – including some journeys from outside the Greater London boundary - will be charged at off-peak rates.

Mr Khan wants to assess whether cheaper fares can increase passenger numbers and boost London’s wider economic recovery post-pandemic.

Midweek Tube journeys are currently at about 85 per cent of pre-Covid levels, but this falls to 73 per cent on Fridays.

Mr Khan said: “Encouraging more people back into the city on Fridays could give a much-needed boost to the hospitality, business and leisure sectors. I’m making a call to all Londoners: to help London keep roaring back - Let’s Do Fridays!”

Peak fares currently apply between 6.30am – 9.30am and 4pm –7pm on Transport for London services, which include the Elizabeth line and London Overground, and National Rail services.

Single paper tickets and paper Day Travelcards will still have peak-hour restrictions during the trial. Season tickets will not change as there is no off-peak option.

Journeys between Heathrow Airport and Zone 1 will also be unaffected.

However the daily “cap” on the cost of multiple Oyster and Contactless journeys will be amended to a lower off-peak rate.

Bus fares will not change as they are set at a flat rate of £1.75 regardless of the time of travel.

Among the first offers is a £100 lunch tasting menu at the two Michelin star restaurant La Dame de Pic London, in the Four Seasons Hotel London in Trinity Square.

Broadworks, in Old Broad Street, will offer 20 per cent off coffee and pastries when it launches a Friday art club next month.

The National Gallery will open until 9pm under its Friday Lates programme. There will be live music at Cardinal Place in Victoria every Friday lunchtime until May 3.

Scrapping peak fares will reduce the cost of a Tube journey from Zone 6 to Zone 1 from £5.60 to £3.60. A journey from Zone 4 to Zone 1 will cost £1.90 rather than £2.80.

On National Rail, the journey from Epsom to Waterloo will fall from £8.80 to £6.10.

Ruth Duston, chief executive of Primera, which operates 12 central London Business Improvement Districts, said: “It is fantastic to see that our calls for bold action have been heard. There is no doubt that Fridays are still noticeably quieter than the rest of the week.”

Ros Morgan, chief executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, said: “TfL data shows that footfall on Fridays, particularly in the daytime, is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“This is why we have been calling for innovative trials to attract more people to the West End.”

Chris Hayward, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, the local authority for the Square Mile, said: “This agreement could deliver a significant boost for London’s pubs, cafes, restaurants, and cultural sector.”

Jacqueline Starr, chief executive officer at Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train firms, said: “We’re pleased that train companies are able to work with Transport for London to offer this trial to customers and we hope it will encourage more people onto trains in the capital.”

The trial will also benefit the 1.2 million older Londoners who have a 60+ Oyster or Freedom Pass. They will qualify for free travel throughout Fridays under the off-peak trial – first time in four years.

At present, the concessions cannot be used between 4.30am and 9am on weekdays.

Students and young people should also benefit from Friday off-peak fares, as their railcards will be valid throughout the day not just at off-peak times.

The trial is in addition to the mayor’s £123m partial fares freeze, which leaves all pay-as-you-go TfL fares unchanged until March next year.

To see the latest offers for Fridays visit www.tfl.gov.uk/deals and https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/off-peak-fridays.