Unfair pricing causing part time workers to shun London

As reported in the Times of Tunbridge Wells last week, workers commuting to London are paying close to a third of the UK average salary, once income tax and National Insurance are added to the £4,792 face value cost of a season ticket, just to get in and out of London each day.

Travellers who only venture into the capital two, three or four days a week, are also left with no option but to buy a full-priced season ticket, as the cost of daily peak time returns is often greater than the cost of an annual, weekly or monthly pass.

Laura Gibson, in her 30s, used to commute to London regularly, and says it has always been a problem.

“A lot of people living in Tunbridge Wells work part time in London.

“We are lucky to be so close to London but people shouldn’t have to pay for a seven day ticket if they only travel three.

“In this modern, agile world, where flexible working and wellness is embraced by most businesses, it seems a shame that rail networks cannot issue a more flexible ticket at a reduced rate.”

Laura, who has now set up her own Tunbridge Wells based PR and brand company, Calvermont, with her partner Olivia Thornhill, says many more people are now considering giving up working in the capital.

“I spent 15 years commuting so I understand the frustration of local commuters all too well. Luckily, there are lots of local businesses in and around Tunbridge Wells and many business people who live, work and play here who don’t have to rely on travel to London.”

Passenger groups have been arguing for some time that rail firms should be offering discounts to part time workers, but as yet, Southeastern and other franchise owners have yet to introduce discount schemes.

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The rail ticketing system has failed to keep up with the changes in the way people work. With the growth in part-time working, and working from home, the rail industry needs to adapt its ticketing approach to make commuting by train more palatable and affordable for those not working full time.

“Train companies need to ensure that their part-time ticketing options are meaningful and save passengers money compared to a 7-day season ticket or buying tickets each day.

“A complete overhaul of fares and ticketing is long overdue – the Government’s recently announced root and branch review of the railways needs to make ticketing simpler, fairer and more affordable.”

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