Minister praises MP for his work in ending the ‘ludicrous’ ticket system

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The new ticketing system comes after a seven-year campaign by the Tunbridge Wells MP to bring flexible ticketing to the rail network.

It is being introduced as part of the Government’s shake-up of the UK’s railways. This will see the creation of a new state-owned body, Great British Railways (GBR), which will set timetables and prices, sell tickets in England, and manage rail infrastructure.

The changes will also allow for commuters who need to travel less than five days a week, or whose schedule varies, to buy part-time and flexible tickets for their rail journeys from next month. 

The tickets will mean commuters who travel to London just two or three days a week will not have to buy a ticket for the entire week.

The news will be welcomed by the 3,500 season ticket holders in Tunbridge Wells, a number of whom have been working flexibly since the pandemic begun.

It costs around £127 a week to get to London and back by train from Tunbridge Wells, with annual season tickets costing more than £5,000.

Speaking in the House of Commons last Thursday [May 20], Mr Clark praised the decision to introduce the flexible tickets, which will go on sale on June 21 and will be usable from June 28. 

Mr Clark said: “I warmly welcome this decisive decision to introduce flexible ticketing. 

“It is ludicrous that since the 1950s, the railways have operated on the assumption that commuters go to their place of work five days a week.

“That has not been true for years, and it is high time this was brought up to date and my constituents will strongly welcome it.”

However, the Tunbridge Wells MP urged the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, to now press on with rolling out contactless ticketing, which he pointed out has been in operation in London for 20 years.

Mr Clark added: “It is ridiculous that it is not available beyond London so that people can avoid queuing up for paper tickets to be printed.”

In response, the Secretary of State thanked Mr Clark for his ‘phenomenal campaigning’ on this issue, adding: “I notice all the time how hard he is working for the commuters of Tunbridge Wells and Paddock Wood and I think these reforms will be warmly welcomed by his constituents.” 

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