What is the Great British Rail Sale and why critics say it won't help commuters

Will the Rail Sale save passengers money? ITV News Reporter Ellie Pitt sets out how the scheme will work

The government has announced train fares will be slashed by as much as half for a month in order to help with cost-of-living pressures and encourage people to go on domestic holidays.

The announcement, a temporary one, is the latest in a series of measures revealed by the government in recent months to tackle rising prices.

Earlier this month it was revealed inflation had risen to 7%, a 30 year high, and higher than most analysts expected. Official figures also showed UK workers have suffered the biggest fall in their real pay for nearly nine years.

Much of the rise in the cost of living is being driven by rising fuel prices, which is having the most severe impact on energy bills and transport.

On Tuesday the transport secretary announced the Great British Rail Sale and said more than one million train tickets would be reduced this spring.

'It's to do one small part of tackling the cost of living', transport secretary Grant Shapps says

The Department for Transport (DfT) is hoping the move will help hard-pressed households, facing rising bills and soaring inflation, to afford trips across the UK and boost domestic tourism.

Grant Shapps, referring to the end of coronavirus restrictions in a video to advertise the sale, said: “We’ve had two years of living life virtually. It is time to get real and visit our beautiful country.”

How will the scheme work?

Discounted tickets will go on sale from Tuesday April 19, with passengers eligible to travel for less on off-peak fares between April 25 and May 27.

That means the discounts are unlikely to help commuters.

The sale, said to be the first of its kind, is expected to bring some Manchester to Newcastle journeys down to a little over £10, while seats on some London to Edinburgh services will be slashed from £44 to £22.

The discount is unlikely to help commuters. Credit: PA

Other journey savings expected include a single from York to Leeds being reduced to £2.80 from £5.60, London to Cardiff being cut from £47 to £25 and Portsmouth Harbour to Penzance going down to £22 from £45.70.

Due to the discount only being applied to off-peak times it is likely to be unhelpful for many who rely on trains to commute to work.

In a statement, Mr Shapps said: “For the first time ever, operators across the rail industry are coming together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by offering up to 50% off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain.

“There’s no better time to visit friends, family or just explore our great country, so book your tickets today.”

Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We want everyone to be able to benefit from travelling by train because it’s more than just a journey, it’s a way to connect everyone to the people, places and things they love.

The DfT said reforms to the rail sector through the so-called Williams-Shapps plan for rail will mean that network-wide sales of tickets should be able to take place more easily in the future.

What other support is there?

The government has also announced several other measures to deal with the cost of living crisis.

Fuel duty has been cut by 5p to help counter rising petrol prices, which are still sitting at near-record highs.

Households are also being offered a £150 rebate on their Council Tax to deal with the rising cost of energy bills.

People are also being given a £200 discount on their energy bills this year to be paid back over the next five years.