U.K. Debuts Flexible Rail Tickets as Part-Time Commuting Grows

Part-time commuters heading into London and other major cities will get a break on train tickets starting next week, as the U.K. adapts to new working patterns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The “national flexi season ticket” targets a growing number of passengers who travel only two or three days a week, offering them discounts compared to buying daily return tickets

The point-to-point tickets went on sale Monday and can be used starting June 28 on any eight days in a 28-day period. Over the course of a year, commuters could save hundreds of pounds, depending on the journey, according to the Department for Transport.

“Flexi season tickets are a step in the right direction,” said Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at industry lobby Rail Delivery Group.

Sparse Savings

However, consumer advocates have warned that the savings promised don’t apply to every route.

“The new tickets will mean savings for some, but not all passengers,” Anthony Smith, chief executive officer of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said by email. “We encourage everyone to use the calculator on the National Rail Enquiries website to work out what will be best for them.”

The launch of flexible tickets was scheduled to coincide with the planned June 21 lifting of U.K. Covid-19 restrictions, dubbed “Freedom Day.”

But the reopening was delayed by four weeks as the more infectious delta variant spreads rapidly across Britain. Government guidance still recommends that “everyone who can work from home must do so.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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