PLEDGES have been made to improve the ticketing on Welsh trains in the wake of concerns over fines to passengers.
Ken Skates, AM for Clwyd South and Welsh Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, was answering petitions on Tuesday, May 9.
He addressed a petition that accused some rail franchises for being too quick to fine commuters without tickets, even when ticket machines on platforms have broken.
In February, leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies highlighted the case of a Barry woman ordered to pay a £610 fine after broken ticket machines left her unable to pay a £2.30 fare.
Arriva Trains Wales recently announced a record high of £28.2m in pre-tax profits.
“Broken ticket machines are a consequence of the lack of investment we’ve previously had in Wales, the lack of funds we’ve had available,” said Mr Skates. “Arriva have also been overly harsh in dishing out tickets.
“What we want to do now to help cut down on this is integrate more technology so that commuters don’t have to rely on the machines, with the use of smartphones.
“A good example of this would be using digital ticketing on apps, where you can purchase your daily or weekly ticket straight from your phone.
“We expect to have a transition towards digital ticketing. One of the things we’ve asked the bidders for the franchise to do is to look at the system, and for them to make sure that it’s not just easier to buy a ticket, but that there’s a greater integration; that you don’t have to buy separate tickets for a single journey, whether by bus or for train. This will all be rolled up as part of the Metro.”
Although Gareth Bennett AM, who was reading the petitions accepted this response, he still had questions. “What about others? Not everyone is comfortable using or even has a smartphone.”
“We do accept and acknowledge that,” said Skates. “This is only an additional measure – we would still invest in proper maintenance and upkeep to ensure there’s always a working ticket machine on every platform.
“A lot of the people who are getting caught up in this fare dodger net do want to pay for their tickets. Between the additional technology and an increase in maintenance staff and conductors, we think we can avoid fining people who are innocent.”
Many commuters approved of the planned changes.
Mai Jones, 64, from Rogerstone, said: “I’m not so good with technology but I think it will be a nice idea.
“The ticket machine at the [Rogerstone] station is always broken, and it’d be nice to have a way to get them without relying on the conductor.”