GTMC: Rail fares could rise following government cutbacks

GTMC: Rail fares could rise following government cutbacks

Government cuts in public sector spending have led to a wholesale abandonment of first class rail travel by UK civil servants, leading to fears that train operators will raise standard rail fares to compensate.

Senior rail industry figures attending the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) conference in Abu Dhabi warned of the consequences.

Jon Reeve, trade relations director at online rail-booking system Evolvi, said: “We have all seen a reduction in first class traffic since the general election.”

He said the seats were occupied by civil servants, and warned: “Advance purchase and standard class fares may increase [in price] as a consequence.”

Eurostar head of UK sales Darren Williams agreed, saying: “There has been a big drop in first class bookings and it has affected the back of the train. We have seen a big move to ‘lowest class on the day’ bookings.”

Virgin Trains national sales manager Anna Doran said: “First class travel bookings in the public sector are down by an average 30%.”

However, Doran said: “We have not closed down our first class. We are trying to encourage business sectors that are seeing strong growth, such as the banking and consultancy sectors, to book first class.”

Travel management companies have seen their rail transactions double over the past five years as corporate travelers have switched to trains from domestic and cross-channel flights and the roads.

More from the CTMC Conference


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