John from Hertfordshire thinks rail ticketing needs to catch up with changes to commuting patterns.
“For the past 25 years, on and off, depending who I worked for, I have commuted daily from my home into central London by train. The service is regular and fast; Euston in 25 minutes. In that time I have seen the trains gain automatic doors, air-conditioning, wifi and grow from eight coaches to 12, with my local platform lengthened to accommodate them. 25 years ago I could easily get a seat, but by early in 2020 it was standing-room-only unless you went in at silly-o’clock or after the peak.
“I usually take my trusty Brompton with me because I like the exercise, it’s quicker than the tubes and it saves me £1,000 a year in fares. After 18 years my bike still looks like new, but it’s a bit like ‘Trigger’s broom’: three sets of spokes, two new wheels, drive-trains and numerous other bits.
“I took a new job at the start of 2020, but by April I was at home and furloughed. In October I got yet another IT job in London, but have worked from home from day one. They reckon that we won’t be back in the office until later in 2021.
“Although it was very crowded and time consuming, I really miss my rail commuting companions. We used to have a great laugh and shared taxis when the trains did not run. Forty years ago we used to drive into London at the weekend when you could park on most streets. I cannot imagine travel into London without the train today, it would take hours, be so stressful and when you got there the parking would be extortionate, if you could find any!
“However, rail commuting comes at a price. Season tickets are the cheapest way to do it, but with a mix of working from home and occasional office visits becoming the new norm, I would like to see a more flexible ticket that gives me say 30, 60 or 90 return journeys, to use within the next year. I’d also like to see a fully integrated phone-based transport fare system, like they have in Oslo, where I have also worked. Let’s see how it pans out.”