Around one in five rail passengers using ticket machines are over-paying or at risk of a penalty fare, the rail regulator has said.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) carried out research which showed 7 per cent did not select the most flexible ticket for their journey and 13 per cent chose a more expensive ticket.
The ORR wants rail operators to refund companies who accidently purchase the wrong ticket. It said this is “necessary to build trust and demonstrate they are responding to passengers’ needs”.
Train operators said that vending machines were designed for simple ticket requirements.
The study, carried out by 721 mystery shoppers, found:
- Two thirds (65%) of ORR’s mystery shoppers did not see any information on the type of tickets which could or couldn’t be bought on the machine.
- 57% of mystery shoppers reported the ticket machines did not explain the times when peak and off-peak tickets could be used for travel.
- Almost a third of mystery shoppers (32%) reported no information on ticket restrictions or validity was provided on the machine.
"Everyone travelling by train should be able to buy the most appropriate ticket for their journey,” said ORR John Larkinson director of railway markets and economics.
"Despite investment in new technology and the removal of jargon from ticket machines, our new research shows passengers may be paying more for their journey than necessary.
"Our mystery shoppers found ticket machines are missing important information on ticket choice, restrictions and validity.”
The study follows a report from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) called for a “radical” overhaul of rail fares with certain fares on longer journeys being removed from the system – removing the need for ‘splitting tickets’.