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Great British Rail Sale (open to all we hope)

epsom station

Great British Rail Sale starts today! Good news for hard-pressed travellers! If you’re planning journeys between 30 January and 15 March don’t miss out!

In these dark and gloomy January days a shaft of sunlight for existing and would-be rail passengers. With the ‘return of the Great British Rail Sale’ the Department for Transport has announced over a million discounted tickets.

Passenger numbers are still down on pre-pandemic times and ministers are hoping bargain prices for a 6-week period will fill the gap.

We hope so too for lots of reasons, but we also want to hear the offers are open to everyone, not just everyone who can order online.

GBRS had its first excursion in April last year. At the time we worried it would exclude people without online skills or access. All the marketing stressed online sales. This time it’s still unclear.

This morning a member of the always-helpful team at Epsom station said: “We should be able to help, dependent on where and when you want to travel.” That was encouraging but not conclusive; they didn’t seem fully briefed about how the great promotion would work for them and their customers.

A spokesperson for the Department told us: The easiest place to buy is online, but for those that need extra support finding and purchasing discounted tickets, customers can contact their preferred retailer directly to find out the best way to purchase their tickets, which will be available at many ticket offices.

We’re confident everyone will do their best to have the bargains as widely available as possible. If there’s a GBRS3 we suggest making it clear at the start which ticket offices are involved.

In its news story* the DfT is rightly upbeat about its discounted tickets when times are hard. But we might raise an eyebrow when they go on to claim a further achievement in capping this year’s fare increase at 4.9% (but for their intervention it would have been 9%). That’s good, except that in December the rate of inflation was 4.0%.

* The Great British Rail Sale returns: discounts on over a million rail tickets, Department for Transport, 20/01/23

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