- 3 Feb 2013
It's being reported that TfW are removing or abolishing off peak fares across parts of their network. Reports in Wales Online here.
No off peak train fares on Transport for Wales with fewer cheap tickets available“Scrapping the crucially important off-peak fares from many trips will hit many people in Wales, and there is no justification for this short-sighted decision"
For many years, off-peak fares have been substantially lower than the “anytime” tickets that enable passengers to board trains during the morning rush hour, when fares have traditionally been higher..
But off-peak fares are no longer an option on routes like the Valleys lines or on the line that goes from south Wales to Manchester.
A single ticket from Cardiff Central to Manchester Piccadilly costs £81 at any time of the day, while for anyone travelling the entire length of the route from Milford Haven to Manchester a single ticket sells for £96.60.
While it is notionally possible to buy cheaper “Advance” tickets, their availability is restricted and they are not as readily available as they were before the pandemic.
In February this year the Welsh Government nationalised the Wales and Borders rail franchise, continuing to market its services as run by Transport for Wales.
In contrast to the policy of Transport for Wales, off-peak fares remain available on the London to south Wales main line, with single fares between Cardiff Central and Paddington costing £49.90.
This line is run by the privately-owned Great Western Railway.
Montgomeryshire MS Russell George, the Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Transport, said: “When the Welsh Labour Government nationalised the train industry last year, I warned that its track record did not fill me with much hope – and the latest saga, concerning off-peak fares, shows my concern was warranted.
“Scrapping the crucially important off-peak fares from many trips will hit many people in Wales, and there is no justification for this short-sighted decision and an explanation needs to be urgently provided by the Welsh Labour Government.
“The people of Wales have been failed by Labour’s mismanagement of our creaking transport system for too long. I urge Ministers to reconsider their mistake, before even further damage is caused.”
Plaid Cymru’s Transport spokeswoman Delyth Jewell, a regional MS for South Wales East, said: “People should be incentivised to use public transport, which is why this news is concerning.
“The Welsh Government has stated its aim of reducing our reliance on cars and other forms of transport that are bad for the environment: if we’re to do that, then surely public transport options should be both practical and – crucially – affordable.
“It would be deeply concerning if cheaper ways to travel by train were limited, particularly when the public have been encouraged to consider travelling at off-peak times, so as to reduce overcrowding during the pandemic.
“At the very least, the Welsh Government should be working to make public transport networks better connected and more affordable.
“At most, responsibility for railways should be fully devolved to Wales, as it is in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which would give Wales a say on rail infrastructure, not just the rail franchise.”
A spokesman for Transport for Wales said: “We’re committed to ensuring our services are as affordable as possible, and regularly review our fares.
“Due to the on-going impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we are currently operating a reduced timetable and have only been able to offer our cheaper ‘Advance’ fares seven days in advance of travel.
“In addition to this, due to the reduced capacity of services to enable social distancing measures the number of Advance tickets available are currently lower than usual.
“We are currently working towards extending this booking window to six weeks in advance of travel.”
The spokesman added: “Saver Return (Off-Peak Return) tickets remain available for the same routes as before the pandemic.
“Cheap Day Returns on the Cardiff to Rhymney and Cardiff to Barry Island routes were trialled in summer 2019 (June and July) but Transport for Wales didn’t pursue these permanently.”
We asked the Welsh Government what involvement it has when Transport for Wales is making decisions about fares, and whether it approved the scrapping of off-peak fares.
The Welsh Government said it did not wish to add to the Transport for Wales statement.