Rail commuters coming into Birmingham at the busiest time of the morning face a major fare hike designed to convince them to travel at a different time, under plans published by the Government.
A new “high-peak” fare could apply to passengers coming into New St, Moor St or Snow Hill when trains are at their most crowded, between 8am and 9am.
Standard season tickets, currently used by many people who work in the city centre and use the train to get to their office, would no longer be valid at “high-peak” times.
The proposals are part of a new strategy for the railways which has been published by the Department for Transport for consultation. Ministers stressed that no decisions have been taken.
Other proposals include allowing local councils, transport authorities and business organisations called Local Enterprise Partnerships to have more control over local services.
Figures published buy the Department for Transport show that 8,500 rail passengers come in to Birmingham between 8am and 8.30am on weekdays, and 9,000 arrive between 8.30am and 9am.
But only 5,000 arrive in the half hour before 8am, and the same amount arrive in the half hour after 9am.
Ministers want to encourage more passengers to travel outside of the busiest periods. But one of the problems, as they see it, is that season tickets generally allow passengers to travel whenever they like, so there is no financial incentive to avoid the busiest period.
The consultation document states: “To provide a stronger incentive for behavioural change and more even usage of peak capacity among existing passengers, a wider ‘menu’ of fares could – although we would need to consider this very carefully – also include a ‘high-peak’ fare priced higher than the current Anytime day fare/ a season ticket priced higher than the current season ticket.”
Speaking in the Commons, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: “Part of the consultation is about asking everybody how we can manage demand better. We want fares to remain affordable. There may be some ability to incentivise people to travel off-peak.”