It appears that there is more bad news for commuters. It has recently been announced that UK rail users are facing higher fares as they are set to increase by 2.3%. Now commuters are being told they could already be overpaying.
Railway companies are being slated yet again for confusing payment issues, however, it is the conductors that are getting into trouble this time. Recent studies have shown that one-fifth of rail passengers buy wrong tickets from machines.
A rail regulator has confirmed that while 7% of people underpay (facing fines), 13% of passengers are paying too much. The Office of Rail and Road is calling for a refund to passengers that are choosing the wrong ticket for their journey.
The Big Rail Fail
The vending machine method is designed to make commuters’ journeys easier, instead, it is complicating matters. ORR employed mystery shoppers to carry out the research and they were asked to buy rail tickets from machines only. The findings were surprising as nearly two-thirds (65%) could not find any information about the type of tickets which they could purchase.
Over half (57%) of the secret shoppers found the machines confusing and said: “the machines did not explain the times when peak and off-peak tickets were valid”. Again, passengers were left disappointed as nearly one-third (32%) said there was no information which discussed ticket restrictions.
John Larkinson, ORR Director Of Railway Markets And Economics told BBC News that “despite investment in new technology and the removal of jargon from ticket machines, our new research shows passengers may be paying more for their journey than necessary”
ORR are now calling on train companies to commit to refund anyone who purchases a ticket which is more expensive than the fare they should have paid. It seems that rail operators C2C and Scotrail already have this system in place and offer a price guarantee for when their passengers do overpay.
The technology which has been introduced to simplify costs is failing and some railway operators are acknowledging this. The most recent announcement from Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the organisation which represents train operators, said that there is set to be a trial scheme which will simplify fares. Their statement revealed that 16 million fares on offer were “baffling” for passengers.
This trial is scheduled to start in May. For the trial to work machines in stations will also be updated, the goal is to make sure that the technology which is being used is displaying the cheapest fares which are available to the customer.
These machines were built to aid railway workers, instead, they are setting them back. Complaints are flying in and customers are becoming unhappy with the prices which the machines are offering them. These machines were originally designed to be “queue-busters” for passengers with relatively simple requirements.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG has said that the organisation has recognised the problem which has come with the use of machines, and their organisation has formulated a 10-point plan to improve the machines.