New and easier-to-use machines and clearer language have helped increasing numbers of passengers buy the right ticket for their journey from station vending machines, according to research by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
Mystery shopping research found that 91% of users would have bought the most appropriate ticket for their journey, up 11% from the last survey in 2017. Of the 9% who might have bought the wrong ticket, 6% would have paid too much, down from 13% last year, and 3% would have got a ticket without the necessary flexibility, down from 6% last year.
The improvements come following the results of the ORR 2017 Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) research, after which the ORR called on train companies to improve the service they provide to passengers.
ORR also called on train companies to commit to a TVM Price Guarantee, to refund the difference to travellers who bought a more expensive ticket than necessary. All 17 companies are now signed up to the TVM Price Guarantee.
However, ORR’s latest research shows that there are still improvements to be made in areas including information on what ticket types can be purchased at TVMs, information on ticket restrictions and validities, and details of what times peak and off-peak tickets can be used.
ORR will work with train operators to ensure that they continue to improve the information they provide to passengers via TVMs to make ticket-buying clearer and easier.
Stephanie Tobyn, ORR Deputy Director, Consumers, said:
"All rail passengers should be able to buy the most appropriate ticket for their journey, without being baffled by confusing terminology and innumerable options.
"We are very pleased that such positive developments have been made since the previous research, but there is still more to be done to help users who aren’t getting the best ticket for their journey.
"The industry has made significant progress and we want to see companies acting on the results of our survey and continuing to roll out improvements to ticket machines to provide a better service to their passengers."
ORR will continue to monitor performance.
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- Full report is available here.
- A total of 739 mystery shops were completed in January and February 2018.
- Mystery shoppers undertook a range of purchase scenarios at ticket machines completing all stages of the purchase but terminating the transaction prior to making the payment.
- In the financial year 2016/17 almost 20% (£2,088m) of industry total gross receipts were from ticket machine sales.
- The Rail Delivery Group launched a 10-point plan to improve ticket machines in December 2016. The Department for Transport published a one-year update on its rail fares and ticketing action plan in December 2017.
- The ORR currently has a separate market study into ticket vending machines and automatic ticket gates underway. Details here.
- The Office of Rail and Road is the UK’s rail regulator and strategic roads monitor for England. ORR protects the interests of rail and road users; improving the safety, value and performance of railways and roads. Follow us on @railandroad.