London’s one-day Travelcard has been saved from the scrapheap after a rescue deal was struck between rail firms and the capital’s travel group.
The scheme was due to be axed after the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan revealed it was costing Transport for London (TfL) an eye-watering £40million in lost income.
News of its potential demise ignited fury from campaigners, who warned the loss of the Travelcard would hit the city’s most vulnerable residents worst.
Now, a deal has been reached between TfL and train firms to retain the ticket, used more than 14 million times a year by people visiting the capital, in a move supporters say would allow commuters to ‘breathe a sigh of relief’.
However, the cost of the one-day pass, which offers train passengers unlimited travel on the Tube and the city’s bus network, will increase by a ‘small amount’ to help cover its cost.
understands TfL has now been given a larger slice of the pie from the revenue generated by ticket sales, to help slash the £40million losses from fares.
London ‘s one-day Travelcard has been saved from the scrapheap after a rescue deal was struck between rail firms and the capital’s travel group
A source close to Mr Khan said the agreement had been struck to reverse the six-month process of withdrawing from the Travelcard agreement.
‘There’s been a lot of back and forth between TfL, Rail Delivery Group and Government in recent weeks and a good compromise has been found,’ the insider told The Standard.
‘TfL were effectively £40million out of pocket every year, funding passengers outside London at a time when their budgets remain under huge pressure. The agreement provides a fairer deal for TfL and Londoners.’
News the of the Travelcard’s rescue has been championed by campaigners, who had opposed it being axed in the first place.
Responding to the announcement, Norman Baker from Campaign for Better Transport told : ‘This is a great decision for sustainable transport and the people who use it, and a happy day for our capital and its businesses.
‘Costly and complicated fares are a barrier for too many people when deciding how to travel, so The Day Travelcard is just the sort of simple, integrated ticket that we need across the country if we want to make public transport the easy choice.’
Campaign for Better Transport spearheaded the effort to rescue the vital travel scheme, used millions of times every year.
In letter to the Mr Khan – backed by surrey County Council, Luton, Medway, Slough, Watford and Wokingham councils, London TravelWatch, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Night Time Industries Association – the group warned axing the card would be disastrous.
The scheme was due to be axed after the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) revealed it was costing Transport for London ( TfL ) an eyewatering £40million in lost income
The letter said: ‘Without the Day Travelcard, fares will rise substantially. On average, off-peak fares for individuals will rise by seven per cent – and families will pay 16 per cent more for their tickets
‘Worryingly, this will come on top of a general fare rise likely to be eight per cent, making travel to London far less attractive, and so damaging our city’s economy.
‘It is not impossible that the withdrawal of the Day Travelcard, far from filling a gap in TfL’s coffers, will actually have a negative impact on TfL’s income stream.’
Campaigners said half of the 14.2million Travelcards issued each year were to children, young people, families, pensioners and disabled passengers.
They added the card provided a ‘vital link to the capital’ for individual passengers and families, protecting them the highest fares and making it easy to switch between train, Tube and bus – on a single ticket.
Mr Baker said: ‘Since we launched our campaign to save the Travelcard, hundreds of people have got in touch to tell us how much they value it, including families with children, teens travelling with youth groups, people with disabilities, people struggling with the cost of living, and people who don’t use contactless or mobile payments.
‘They will breathe a sigh of relief today.’
Last month fears were raised rail passengers faced a ‘double whammy’ of fare hikes if the one-day Travelcard was withdrawn from January.
It’s loss would have mean off-peak fares into London would have risen by about seven per cent – before jumping again in March, with the next annual rise in train, tube and bus fares, which are anticipated to balloon a further eight per cent.
Scrapping the Travelcard would also have led to those who want to use TfL services but are travelling in from the likes of Essex, Surrey or Berkshire would have to pay for their National Rail ticket, and then use an Oyster or contactless card in the capital.
It would have meant someone travelling from Maidenhead to Tottenham Court Road and back with an off-peak Railcard would have to pay £21.75 for an Anytime Day Return ticket instead of £13.45 for an Off-Peak Day Travelcard – a rise of 62 per cent. Even if they used a contactless card both ways, it would be £20.10 return.
Passenger watchdog London TravelWatch slammed the plans, with a spokesman telling at the time: ‘We should be making it easier, not more difficult, for passengers to use public transport into and around the capital.’
The scheme’s retention means that visitors can now switch between train, Tube and bus by using a single ticket.
City Hall said Mr Khan had been forced to consider the axing the day Travelcard due to the requirement for TfL to generate extra income to help it break even this financial year, while also making substantial savings.
It said under the previous arrangement, Londoners were effectively subsidising the cost of travel for people living outside the capital.
has approached TfL and Mr Khan’s office for comment, as well as the Department for Transport.