Call for off-peak season tickets to cut crowding and costs

Posted on August 14, 2012

Responding to the announcement of above-inflation price hikes for train users, a Glasgow MSP has called for the creation of off-peak season tickets to cut costs and reduce overcrowding on Scotland’s trains.

Research by the Scottish Greens has found that the current cost of a 12-month season ticket between Edinburgh and Glasgow (£3380) is more than the cost of a 12-month ticket that gives you unlimited travel across the whole of Germany’s 21,000 mile network (£3252/€3990). (1) After today’s announcement, the cost of this season ticket is expected to rise by £142 in January.

The Greens want the season ticket system to be made more flexible for part-time and flexible workers, cutting costs for those who don’t need to travel at peak times and providing an incentive to reduce overcrowding. The current season ticket structure does not differentiate between peak and off-peak travel and yet UK figures show that 43% of journeys (600m a year) are made using season tickets. (2)

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“You can hop on any train in the whole of Germany for a year for less than a season ticket between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Train fares in the UK seem designed to enrage rather than encourage passengers on public transport, and every year passengers get another kick in the teeth with unfair above-inflation price rises.

“I’m calling for an off-peak season ticket to be made available for those workers who don’t need to travel at peak times but who currently pay just as much. If we can make the ticket system far clearer for passengers then we can reduce costs and overcrowding on Scotland’s trains.”


1. Figures from
DB Bahncard 100, details here:

2. The UK Department for Transport is currently conducting a review of rail fares and ticketing:


  1. You omitted one other fact about the BahnCard 100: it also entitles the holder to unlimited bus/tram/metro travel in over 120 towns and cities across Germany.

    Comment by Paul Robertson — August 15, 2012 @ 9:18 am

  2. [...] got 12,194 signatures before it closed on 4th August this year. Research by the Scottish Greens [Yes, they looked it up on the Internet and everything] has found that the current cost of a 12-month season ticket between Edinburgh and Glasgow (£3380) [...]

    Pingback by We pay more | Edinburgh Eye — August 15, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  3. The one thing that really messes up rail fares is the fact that they are divided up (rail settlement plan) to pay out individual operators proportionate to the resources each provides to carry the ‘average passenger’ – a whole layer of bureaucracy and wasted time bashing out the agreed figures. London Buses, National Express coaches, are ‘unified ’systems to the public (like many still view the railways) and have a simple fares structure with all the money being paid to National Express or TfL London Buses, who than set up the contracts and pay the privatised individual companies for one fares collection pot and fares structure.

    The Glasgow – Edinburgh route has examples of how this confuses and increases fares – check out how much cheaper the fare is if you limit your trips to Cross Country only – advance purchase singles the night before for £2 or less, walk- up fares Edinburgh-Glasgow for £9.70 return anytime £7.50 single (all services £21 & £12.00/£12.10 off-peak day return (Coach £10 return)

    Going further afield? I went to Leeds today for just over £50 return – walk up anytime fare, with return up to a month later – only restriction I have to go via Appleby compared to just over £95 for a fare by any other route (but with some time restrictions – over £100 for fully open return fare), and a journey time (via the shortest route) of under 4 hours, if the connections work OK.

    In Scotland, we have the opportunity to radically revise how we pay fares – we could nationalise the fares structure and then pay the franchisees to run the trains directly, and if this is doe we might as well go for a national stored value card, as a way to deliver the alluded to off-peak season ticket. We have smartcard ‘fare’ payment already on bus and coach services for young people, disabled people, and pensioners, so bolting on a pre-paid rail ‘purse’ or a monthly direct debit payment for travel, is a do-able for Scotland with a simpler rail operation, being refranchised in 2014, and a population of less than 10% of that South of the border, already partly on board with their fares smartcards.

    With stored value on the cards the users can then select off-peak and peak travel and pay the appropriate rate, managing their train travel costs – but potentially opening this to a wider deal – catching the later or earlier coaches when the last trains have left etc, and even paying special car-user rates for car hire, taxis, bike hire etc.

    Comment by Dave Holladay — August 27, 2012 @ 1:28 pm