Cheaper season tickets for part-time workers would pay for itself, claims Suffolk MP

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Flexible ticketing would pay for itself enticing skilled people and full-time mums back into the workplace, a Suffolk MP has said.

James Cartlidge hit out at profits made by rail operators for “phantom journeys” charged to part-time workers with full-time season tickets, saying that “in the era of flexi-time, we need flexi-fares”

He said rail companies relying on revenue from part-time season tickets were basing their business model on something that was not sustainable or fair.

“The idea that profits are based on people paying for millions of days that they never use and phantom journeys that they will never take seems quite incredible,” he added.

He called for the rail minister to consider flexible tickets to be included in the new contract for rail operators running East Anglia, due to be announced later this year.

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He quoted Sudbury constituent Deborah Adams who said “It is very old-fashioned to think that workers go to their office every day and we should not be penalised for flexible working.”

She called for a system where a commuter might buy 10 day returns for the price of six to seven to really encourage the flexibility that the modern work force needs when juggling work and family life.

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Minister Claire Perry said the lost revenue for train companies would have to be paid for by somebody.

“My understanding is that only about 10pc of current rail travellers work part time, so those numbers may be lower than they are represented to be, but ultimately, if there is an additional cost in the form of reduced revenue for the rail industry, somebody will have to pay.” She said other fare payers, the government through the franchising process, or the companies, which will have to commit their own capital, would make up for the shortfall in fares.

“There is a lot of ticketing innovation out there for us to unleash. Rather than sitting around waiting to be told what to do by the government - who despite the best efforts of the brilliant officials in the Department are not necessarily on top of the latest technological revolutions - those companies that are closest to customers should innovate and be prepared to put in their capital and innovation to drive results.”

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