Train ticket prices to be slashed in half as Great British Rail Sale launched

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3 min read
train tickets Train passengers buy their tickets at Waterloo Station in central London following the announcement that hard-pressed rail commuters will have to fork out for above-inflation rises in the cost of their season tickets in the new year.
The government said more than one million train tickets would be reduced this spring. Photo:PA

The price of more than a million train tickets will be cut by up to half in April and May to help with cost of living pressures and encourage people to go on domestic holidays.

The train tickets sale begins this Tuesday at 10am with travel dates available from six days later.

The sale, said to be the first of its kind, has been dubbed the Great British Rail Sale with the transport secretary saying more than one million train tickets will be slashed this spring.

The discount applies to certain off-peak trains between now and May 27, with routes being selected for cheaper prices based on demand and the potential to encourage more travel.

Train passenger levels are still only at 75% of what they were pre-pandemic, whereas car usage is now at 93%.

Read more: UK rail fares up 3.8% in biggest rise in nearly a decade

It will not cover journeys made during half-term or the four-day UK bank holiday weekend from 2 to 5 June, which will mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The sale is expected to bring some Manchester to Newcastle journeys down to a little over £10, while seats on some London to Edinburgh services will be slashed from £44 to £22.

Some tickets between London and Cardiff will drop from £47 to £25 and Wolverhampton to Liverpool will cost only £5.25 instead of £10.50.

The industry has yet to fully recover from the effects of the COVID pandemic, as ministers attempt to boost national tourism now that restrictions have come to an end.

Train passenger levels are still only at 75% of what they were pre-pandemic, whereas car usage is now at 93%.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps, said: “For the first time ever, operators across the rail industry are coming together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by offering up to 50% off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain.

“There’s no better time to visit friends, family or just explore our great country, so book your tickets today.”

Other journey savings expected include a single from York to Leeds being reduced to £2.80 from £5.60 and Portsmouth Harbour to Penzance going down to £22 from £45.70.

The tickets will be available to buy from train operators and on the Trainline site, on a first come, first served basis.

Officials said offering half-price rail tickets was "one of the ways" the government was helping to support families with the cost of living.

Read more: TFL: Sadiq Khan hits Londoners with biggest tube and bus fare hike in a decade

The Campaign for Better Transport welcomed the move by the government, but said it was only a first step.

Norman Baker, from Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Trains are a great way to travel – good for the economy, good for social mobility and good for the environment – but passenger numbers have to date not fully recovered to their pre-COVID levels. This is an excellent way to win back those passengers and remind them that our trains are safe, clean and for a short period at least much cheaper too. We have been pushing for action to get people back on trains so are delighted the government has responded positively.

"I hope the take-up of this offer will attract people onto trains and actually end up generating extra money for the government. It can show the Treasury that the way to increase income is to cut fares, not keep ratcheting them up and driving people off the railway. This initiative, though very welcome, is but a first step."

The news comes as train travellers were hit with the biggest fare rise in nine years last month.

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