Good news on the horizon for rail commuters in Portsmouth and surrounding areas

RAIL commuters who don't make their work journey every day may soon be freed from the shackles of buying expensive season tickets.

Saturday, 12th March 2016, 6:06 am
MPs are calling for a more flexible approach to season tickets on trains

At the moment, people who travel fewer than five days a week across the south’s railway network still pay less for journeys if they buy a seven-day season ticket.

But Havant MP Alan Mak has lobbied to change to a more flexible ticketing system.

And the government has agreed to include this in the deal when the Portsmouth-to-London Waterloo franchise comes up for renewal next year.

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According to Mr Mak it will benefit commuters across the south.

He said: ‘There are significant numbers of Havant residents who commute to Portsmouth, London and around the Solent region three or four days a week, but have to buy a full season ticket.

‘People’s work and travel patterns have changed over the years and are now increasingly flexible.

‘Our rail fares should be flexible and adaptable too to reflect more home working.

‘It seems unfair to charge people to travel to work seven days a week when, in some cases, they are actually making journeys for less than half of that time.’

Three peak-time return journeys between Havant and London Waterloo cost £195.90 in total, while a weekly season ticket is £116.90.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘We haven’t moved on from British Rail days when the cost of a cheap day return is just a few pennies more than the cost of a single fare and the times when a cheap day fare can be used must not be before 10am.

‘The franchisee should be given more freedom to price journeys according to supply and demand.’

She added: ‘We must not assume that commuters work five-day weeks and start work at 9am.

‘We should look to address the overcrowding problem through imaginative fare structures.’

Rail minister Clare Perry said it is likely the changes will take place during the tender process for new franchises across the country.

South West Trains, which runs the Portsmouth-to-London Waterloo and Southampton lines, will bid against Stagecoach when the franchise comes up for renewal next year.

Mike Hewitson, from independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘We have a complex fares system and passengers tell us that they want more choice when it comes to buying tickets.’