How to get a flexible rail season ticket as they launch in Britain

·3-min read
Brits could save between £60 and £350 a year on selected journeys. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Brits could save between £60 and £350 a year on selected journeys. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

New flexible season tickets launched in the UK on Monday, allowing commuters who work from the office just two or three days a week to save on travel from 28 June.

The tickets, which are part of the government’s plan to shake-up rail services, can be used for any eight days within a 28-day period, with no need to select the days of travel in advance. This is for travel between two stations.

They have been introduced as Brits continue to work from home or transition into hybrid working as the economy recovers from the pandemic. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, demand for traditional season tickets was already waning, however, a series of lockdowns and people forced to work from home only accelerated the trend.

A poll released on Monday, by the London Chamber of Commerce, showed that four in five London businesses expect staff to work at least one day a week at home in future. It added that 46% of businesses that can work from home expect staff to do so four or five days a week.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said flexible season tickets would offer "greater freedom and choice about how we travel, simpler ticketing and a fairer fare”.

It is estimated that Brits could save between £60 ($83) and £350 a year on selected journeys.

Watch: People working from home in UK more than doubled as pandemic struck - but at what cost?

Read more: Remote working jobs in UK triple amid pandemic

Here’s how to get flexible season tickets:

Tickets can be bought directly through the National Rail website, however, they are also available to people who have registered for a smartcard or downloaded the mobile app. Commuters can also register for one at some ticket offices.

The new tickets can alternatively be purchased directly from train operators, such as Chiltern Railways, Great Western Rail, and Greater Anglia.

Flexi season tickets will be available as either a smartcard or barcode ticket, depending on what each train operator offers. The latter will either be delivered as a pdf document attached to an email, which can be stored in your phone wallet, or it will be delivered to your app and stored there.

If you have a Smartcard, you can buy your flexi season ticket online and add it to your smartcard when you get to the station by ‘touching in’ on the yellow reader on the gate, platform validator, or in some cases the self-service ticket machine.

National Rail has also created an online "season ticket calculator" to help passengers identify the cheapest option.

The UK government’s long-awaited shake-up of the rail industry will see the formation of a new public body called Great British Railways (GBR), with digitised train ticketing as part of the overhaul.

Read more: Trainline shares crash 30% amid major rail shake-up

The move, which is the biggest shake-up since the 1990s, will mean that the rail industry will still be run by private companies but under a management contract, similar to the system in place on the London Overground.

Last month, ministers said that passengers will be able to buy tickets on a website run by GBR, as it aims to better integrate the current fragmented system.

Reports revealed that it would take around nine months to get the new site up and running. Britain's 26 rail operators will migrate onto the platform as their contracts with companies such as Trainline (TRN.L) expire.

As well as flexible pricing plans, the move will bring streamlined fares and a simplified refund system. It will also provide smartphone ticketing, including bringing contactless and pay-as-you-go systems to more parts of the country.

Watch: UK announces major shakeup of railways

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