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August 10, 2018

Industry pledges to cut rail jargon to avoid ticket confusion

The rail industry has revealed it will remove jargon printed on rail tickets and journey information from 500,000 routes this September in a bid to simplify the process of buying tickets.

By Adele Berti

The rail industry has revealed it will remove jargon printed on rail tickets and journey information from 500,000 routes this September in a bid to simplify the process of buying tickets.

A host of industry partners led by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) launched the initiative after KPMG research showed that a fifth of travellers find it hard to understand what type of ticket they need to purchase; a third of passengers do not trust that they are always getting the best deal available.

Potentially misleading language such as ‘Route Direct’ and ‘Any Permitted’ will be therefore eliminated, together with another 1.6 million instances of unclear jargon over the next couple of years.

The industry will aim to replace these phrases with simplified terminology like ‘via’ a specific station, or by leaving a blank space if the journey follows a direct route. Tickets valid to one station in London will state the specific destination, rather than reading ‘London Terminals’.

According a survey from the Office for Rail and Road, the situation has already improved since 2017, when figures revealed a fifth of travellers did not select the most convenient fare. This year, only 9% of the 145 million tickets purchased at vending machines have been found to be incorrect for the journey taken.

Rail Delivery Group deputy managing director of customer portfolio Jason Webb said: “We know it can be confusing to buy a ticket on the train and that the outdated jargon unique to rail like ‘London Terminals’ or ‘Any Permitted’ is part of the problem.”

The move follows a recent consultation launched by the RDG and transport watchdog Transport Focus that aims to find out how to improve the outdated rail fares system in the UK.

Webb added: “We are making huge efforts as an industry to make this easier where we can, but to really make fares simpler to understand we need regulatory change. That’s why we’re running a consultation and asking customers to have their say on what they want from the future fares system.”

The results of the consultation, which will be presented to the UK Government in the coming months, will hopefully help improve the system. According to the RDG, the current system is unsuitable for the latest technological advancements and the Internet era. Among the proposed solutions are smart-ticketing, providing clearer information about peak and off-peak fares, as well as door-to-door ticketing.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith commented: “Rail passengers find fares and ticketing complex and confusing. Action to remove jargon is a significant step towards a fares system that passengers find easy to use.

“However, over the longer term some more fundamental reforms are still needed if train companies are ever going to enjoy the trust of the travelling public. The current consultation will make sure passengers’ views are heard as the industry works to reform its complicated fares system.”

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