The Government’s Great British Railways reforms look to integrate the railways for the first time in a quarter of a century, owning the infrastructure, collecting most fare revenue, running and planning the network and setting timetables. The reforms are set to provide new opportunities for the private sector to innovate in areas such as ticket retailing and data that can be used by passengers to better plan their journeys. This will include rolling out new flexible season tickets, making significant rollouts of pay as you go, contactless ticketing and digital ticketing on smartphones.
Following my recent call in the House of Commons for rail tickets to be more affordable and flexible, I welcome these Government reforms.
Dover has the advantage of a high-speed rail train that connects to central London in an hour, but a season ticket costs over £7,000; that is around 25% of average earnings.
To unleash the railway opportunity—whether that is high-speed Dover or the new HS2— rail tickets must be affordable and also serve those customers travelling once, twice or three times a week.
When direct, all-day high-speed services were suspended from Martin Mill, Walmer, Deal and Sandwich last year, I received assurances from Southeastern that there was no intention to remove the all-day high-speed service to these stations in the longer-term.
With the UK making great strides in its battle against Covid-19 and our roadmap out of lockdown currently on track, it is the right time to make sure that there are plans in place to fully restore the important high-speed services in line with increasing demand as we move through this year.