Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, today welcomed Government proposals to bring smart ticketing to Reading and across the South West.
As part of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the Great Western Franchise, which the Department for Transport launched today, train operating companies bidding for the franchise will be obliged to introduce smart ticketing across the entire Great Western network. The new 15 year franchise will also see passengers benefit from new express trains, additional capacity and passenger satisfaction targets as part of proposals being put forward today by Rail Minister Theresa Villiers.
In March, Alok spoke in Parliament about his vision for the new franchise agreement which included a call to bring smart ticketing to Reading as early as possible. During the adjournment debate Alok called for a greater amount of transparency in rail franchise agreements on overcrowding as well as flexible and more imaginative new approaches to ticketing. Alok also suggested that all new rail franchise agreements should offer expectant mothers and the disabled free upgrades to First Class on their season tickets, if there are no seats available in Standard Class.
Following the launch of the ITT, Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said: “Passengers using the Great Western Line will benefit from major infrastructure improvements and new rolling stock over the next few years, as a result of the Government’s ambitious programme of rail improvements, including extensive electrification.”
Villiers continued: “For the first time on the Great Western franchise, we will be introducing requirements on passenger satisfaction for the train operator to meet which will mean they have to focus strongly on the issues that matter the most to passengers. Extending smart card ticketing across the franchise will provide many more passengers across the West and South West with the kind of convenience Oyster has brought to Londoners.”
Alok Sharma said: “I am delighted that the Government has committed to bringing smart ticketing to Reading, which will be welcomed by all commuters. Smart ticketing brings with it the possibility for a wide range of imaginative ticketing options which could, for example, benefit people who work part-time in London and currently can only choose between daily and weekly tickets, which does not represent value for money.”
Alok continued: “I hope whichever train operator wins the franchise, it will continue First Great Western’s current policy of offering season ticket holders the ability to reserve a seat on regularly timetabled trains. This is an excellent policy which should be highlighted more prominently to commuters.”
Commuters with a photo-card season ticket can reserve a seat on regularly timetabled trains by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with their photo-card number and their journey details.
Alok concluded: “I also want to see First Class upgrades for expectant mothers and those that are disabled if there is no seating available in Standard Class.”
On First Great Western services expectant mothers can currently request to sit in First Class if there are no seats in Standard Class. To apply for the upgrade available to expectant mothers you will need to send a copy of your Maternity Certificate (MAT B1) or a Family Health Services Authority Exemption Certificate (FP92) to Customer Services, Freepost SWB40576, Plymouth, PL4 6ZZ along with a copy of your Season Ticket, and your contact details. Both of these documents should be available from your midwife or GP.