A rail ticket provider is developing tracking technology to measure the busyness of individual trains and encourage travellers to wait for less congested trains with reduced prices.
The technology will use the GPS capabilities of a smartphone along with an app developed by rail ticket company The Trainline to constantly update its ticket prices depending on how many people are on each train. This will raise prices during peak hours, while comparatively reducing prices for quieter trains, in the hope that more people will opt for the latter and consequently reduce congestion.
Expected to roll out over the next couple of years, The Trainline wants to offer discounts for travellers willing to wait for less busy trains. However, campaigners say that the pricing structure will unfairly discriminate against travellers who have no other choice but to get certain trains.
Lianna Etkind of the Campaign for Better Transport said of The Trainline’s proposals:
'We object to any moves towards superpeak pricing. Fares are already too high and creating peak-time travel premiums discriminates against people who have less discretion over when they travel.
Overcrowding blights the journeys of too many commuters. Price incentives can help tackle it, but we also need investment in increasing capacity, new rolling stock and better ticketing including part-time season tickets.'
However, in a further blow to the plans, the Rail Delivery Group, which works on behalf of Network Rail and the associated train operators, said that it does not envisage live fair updates any time soon. Nevertheless, The Trainline wants to use the same technology and its associated app to offer travellers refunds whenever they are delayed excessively.
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