'Mix and match' rail fare shake-up
Rail passengers could see an end to single-journey fares costing almost as much as return tickets under plans announced by the Government.
Currently the Government regulates the price of off-peak return fares, meaning train operating companies are able to price other tickets - including off-peak singles - more freely.
But rail minister Norman Baker has announced plans for a pilot scheme that could see all long-distance rail tickets sold on a single-leg basis and allow passengers to "mix and match" each ticket type when planning a return journey.
It means single tickets would cost roughly half the return fare - a shake-up on the current pricing structure in which there is sometimes little difference between the cost of the two ticket types.
Mr Baker said: "The coalition Government is investing record amounts into transforming the railways, but alongside the massive infrastructure and rolling stock improvements it is vital passengers start to feel the benefit in their pockets.
"I am determined to end this confusing and frustrating system whereby the price of single fares for long-distance journeys can be similar to those of returns.
"Passengers need every confidence that the journeys they are paying for are the best deals in terms of convenience and money spent, and the launch of this pilot is proof of our determination to make that happen."
The Government said by regulating off-peak singles instead of returns, passengers would be able to choose the most appropriate ticket for each leg of their journey. It could also help tackle crowding by giving passengers more choice over which service they travel on, it said.
Details of the pilot are yet to be confirmed, though it is likely to be launched in 2015.
A spokesman said the Department for Transport (DfT) said it will enter commercial negotiations with a long-distance operator to identify a suitable route for the pilot.