Virgin Trains Ticketing launches Charter for Change

UK: A ‘Charter for Change’ calling for third-party retailers to be given full access to all ticketing products has been launched by Virgin Trains Ticketing.

This calls for:

  • all tickets, fares and discounts to be made available for sale through all channels, enabling third party retailers to sell products such as Avanti Superfare and LNER Smart Save which are currently only available from the operators;
  • open data sharing, to provide independent retailers with access to live seat availability data;
  • enabling all retail channels to offer services including Delay Repay and mobile pay-as-you-go.

‘The current retail environment was not set-up with a large market of independent retailers in mind and we’ve been left with a model that limits what retailers can do’, said Virgin Trains Ticketing director Mark Plowright on May 20.

He said ‘this divide between train operators and rail retailers is outdated and unnecessary. It stifles competition and doesn’t reflect the growing role that independent retailers play in today’s industry.’

Rail Business UK understands that the difficultly with Superfare tickets relates to fact that that the advance purchase tickets are only allocated to a specific train 24 h ahead of travel, and the supplier of the retail platform through which they are sold had to make a significant investment in developing a process which supports this.

Virgin Trains Ticketing’s call for change was backed by Anthony Smith, Chairman of the Independent Rail Retailers association, who said the proposals would not require legislation and ’should not just be welcomed, but actively supported by all political parties as part of the solution to the gap in rail’s post-Covid finances’.

A spokesperson for Rail Delivery Group told Rail Business UK ‘we work collaboratively with all retailers and will continue our constructive discussions, focused on delivering for customers’.