Rail Sale ‘gimmick’ only covers ‘1% of tickets’ for a month – and no commuters

Labour, unions and campaign groups dismissed the Great British Rail Sale ‘publicity stunt’ from Grant Shapps – despite a cheesy video starring the Transport Secretary

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Department for Transport announces ‘The Great British Rail Sale’

The Tories’ ‘Great British Rail Sale’ was dismissed as a “gimmick” by Labor and unions today as it will only cover 1% of journeys for one month – and no commuter fares.

Grant Shapps said just over a million tickets will be discounted, around 800,000 of them half-price, in a 33-day period.

The Transport Secretary boasted it would “help passengers facing rising costs of living”.

But leaked industry data this month showed there were 22.9million journeys in the week ending March 20. That figure scaled up to 33 days would make nearly 108million journeys, said Labor – suggesting fewer than 1% will be discounted.

And it’s thought only off-peak and advance fares are included in the sale, after commuters were hit with a 3.8% annual fares hike last month.

Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said: “This gimmick proves the Tories just aren’t serious about tackling the cost of living crisis. With only a tiny fraction of passengers seeing any discount, millions of hard-up Brits will still be paying eye-watering sums to travel.”

The move was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Campaign group the Association of British Commuters branded it a “publicity stunt”, adding: “The real story on UK fares is an expected TEN PER CENT rise next year… Passengers will be permanently priced out of rail travel, while services will continue to decline .”

The Campaign for Better Transport said the sale will “help win back passengers in the short term” but “an end to huge annual fare rises” was needed too.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “Rail fares need to be reduced permanently, not temporarily.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This headline grabbing gimmick won’t help commuters at all … Working people need affordable rail travel every day.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch added: “We need a properly funded railway that provides permanently good value and reliability.”

Brits traveling between April 25 and May 27 can get lower prices in a bid to get people back on tracks, Mr Shapps announced in a cheesy video in front of a green-screen backdrop of tourist spots.

Mr Shapps was urged to reduce fares permanently instead of announcing a one-off one-month sale

All key English operators have signed up, covering major cross-border services into Scotland and Wales.

Railcard holders could buy a ticket for one third of the original price by combining a railcard with the sale.

However, Welsh and Scottish operators are not part of the offer – despite it being dubbed the ‘Great British Rail Sale’.

Discounted tickets went on sale this morning. The cost will be effectively shouldered by the government which is still funding railway post-Covid – but the amount has not been revealed.

The Department for Transport said it would bring some Manchester to Newcastle journeys down to a little over £10, while seats on some London to Edinburgh services will be slashed from £44 to £22. Sleeper services are not included.

Mr Shapps said: “There’s no better time to visit friends, family or just explore our great country, so book your tickets today.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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