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Crackdown on rail jargon for half a million routes

The rail industry is cracking down on jargon (Lauren Hurley/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Confusing jargon printed on rail tickets and journey information is to be removed from half a million train routes next month in order to make it easier for travellers to buy the correct ticket.

Unnecessary or potentially misleading language such as “Route Direct” and “Any Permitted” is being removed or clarified after a study found one in five passengers don't find it easy to understand which ticket to buy, industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said.

The phrases will be replaced with a blank space if a journey follows a direct route, or with “Via …” specifying a station if there is a change on the route or the service passes through a major station.

Tickets which are only valid to one station in London will give the destination rather than the existing “London Terminals”.

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If a passenger is entitled to travel via multiple routes, the acceptable itineraries will be available on the National Rail website.

The measures are part of the industry’s aim to eliminate 1.6 million pieces of jargon within the next two years.

The latest changes mean all 14,000 uses of “Route Direct” and more than 670,000 uses of “Any Permitted” will have been removed since February last year.

A recent study commissioned by the RDG found that more than one in five (22%) passengers do not think it is easy to understand what type of ticket they need to buy for their journey, and a third (34%) do not believe they are always getting the best deal available.

Changes to ticket wording are part of steps being taken by the industry to simplify fares, including the roll out of smart ticketing, clearer information on peak and off-peak times and how people can use their ticket.

The RDG warned that regulations dating back several decades will need to be brought up to date if fare structures and ticketing systems are to suit the way people work and travel today.

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It is carrying out a consultation with watchdog Transport Focus to “find out what passengers want” from efforts to reform the system.

Jason Webb, a deputy managing director at the RDG, said: “We know it can be confusing to buy a ticket on the train and that outdated jargon unique to rail like ‘London Terminals’ or ‘Any Permitted’ is part of the problem.

“We are making huge efforts as an industry to make this easier where we can, but to really make fares simpler to understand we need regulatory change. That’s why we’re running a consultation and asking customers to have their say on what they want from the future fares system.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “Rail passengers find fares and ticketing complex and confusing. Action to remove jargon is a significant step towards a fares system that passengers find easy to use.

“However, over the longer term some more fundamental reforms are still needed if train companies are ever going to enjoy the trust of the travelling public.

“The current consultation will make sure passengers’ views are heard as the industry works to reform its complicated fares system.”

A spokesman for rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said: “ORR has been pressing for improvements in removing ticketing jargon and we welcome today’s announcement.

“However, further work is needed in providing clear information on the range of tickets available and their restrictions and validity, such as peak or off-peak.”