Older and disabled people with bus passes will be able to get a third off train travel as part of a twelve-month First Great Western and Department For Transport (DfT) experiment. Launched earlier this week by Rail Minister Norman Baker to encourage more older and disabled people to use trains, the trial means concessionary bus pass holders will be able to claim discounted fares on two test routes without purchasing an annual Senior Railcard, which costs £28.
The scheme will apply to standard off-peak fares between Worcester and Swindon via Stroud, and between Westbury and Weymouth.
Mark Hopwood, First Great Western Managing Director, said:
“First Great Western is privileged to provide services to some of the country’s leading destinations and our branch lines to Worcester and Weymouth are symbolic of that.
“We are delighted to be able to take part in this trial, which should help improve access for senior citizens and people with disabilities to the services that we offer.”
The DfT will be assessing the trial keenly to see if a wider and more permanent application might be merited.
Rail Minister Norman Baker said:
“This is great news for bus pass holders and hopefully they will take full advantage of the discounts on offer through this innovative scheme.
“Everybody is feeling the squeeze at the moment and this trial will help older and disabled people save money while traveling on these two important railway lines.
“The railways are not only a crucial part of our country’s economic growth but they also provide a valuable link for families and friends. I am confident this scheme will help bolster those links and provide real benefits to those who need it most.”
Campaigning groups including the National Pensioner’s Convention and Unite have previously lobbied for concessionary bus passes to be used as a senior railcard, and believe it will lead to higher numbers of older and disabled people purchasing rail tickets.
The DfT will work with First Great Western to examine the commercial viability of the scheme with a final report due in November next year.