In what is being dubbed the Great British Rail Sale, the Transport Secretary said more than one million train tickets would be reduced this spring.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is hoping the move will help hard-pressed households, facing rising bills and soaring inflation, to afford trips across the UK and boost domestic tourism.
The sale, said to be the first of its kind, is expected to bring some Edinburgh to London services will be cut from £44 to £22 and others like Manchester to Newcastle journeys down to a little over £10.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, referring to the end of coronavirus restrictions in a video to advertise the sale, said: “We’ve had two years of living life virtually.
“It is time to get real and visit our beautiful country.”
Discounted tickets will go on sale from today with passengers eligible to travel for less on off-peak fares between April 25 and May 27.
Officials said offering half-price rail tickets was “one of the ways” the Government was helping to support families with the cost of living, having previously announced measures to defer energy costs and offer council tax discounts for some households.
The move to reduce fares comes in the wake of swingeing rises in the cost of living with everything from fuel prices at the pumps to home and commercial energy costs soaring.
Westminster and the returned administrations in Scotland, Wale and Northern Ireland all want to encourage more use of the UK’s rail network as part of their commitment to reducing climate change and removing polluting petroleum and diesel vehicles from the roads.
The country’s rail network, once the finest in the world, is under constant criticism for a litany of failings, including dirty carriages, poor or missed services and failing to have moved with the times.
Scotland’s railways were temporarily nationalised in March 2020 to help the service cope with the impact of coronavirus.
In a statement Mr Shapps said: “For the first time ever, operators across the rail industry are coming together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by offering up to 50% off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain.
“There’s no better time to visit friends, family or just explore our great country, so book your tickets today.”
Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We want everyone to be able to benefit from traveling by train because it’s more than just a journey, it’s a way to connect everyone to the people, places and things they love.
“As part of the Great British Rail Sale customers will enjoy over one million discounted tickets, so they can explore some of the fantastic locations that are accessible by rail.”
Other travel savings expected include a single from York to Leeds being reduced to £2.80 from £5.60, London to Cardiff being cut from £47 to £25 and Portsmouth Harbor to Penzance going down to £22 from £45.70.
The DfT said reforms to the rail sector through the so-called Williams-Shapps plan for rail will mean that network-wide sales of tickets should be able to take place more easily in the future.
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