Flexible rail season tickets – how much do they cost and are they worth it?

For those working from home over the past year the daily commute and its associated costs have not been missed.

Much of the country looks set to return to work next month but costs have risen in their absence. In March rail fares rose by 2.6pc on average, adding huge sums onto annual season tickets.

To complicate matters, many employers are likely to introduce flexible working policies once office work is permitted, where staff will work from home for part of the week.

For those who are used to full season tickets, buying daily tickets could mean their bills rise even if they are travelling less than before.

The Government has tried to address this by introducing “flexi” season tickets, which allow commuters to travel for a certain number of days per month without booking in advance.

The tickets went on sale on June 21 and can be used from Monday, June 28. But how do they work, and will they save commuters money?

How do they work?

A flexi season ticket provides customers with eight days of travel in 28 days between two named stations.

The days of use do not need to be specified in advance, which the Government said gives part-time commuters more flexibility.

The tickets allow travellers to make unlimited journeys between the two stations, or between any station on their permitted route, on their days of travel, until 04.29 am the following day. 

The tickets, which are not available in paper form, come as either a “smartcard”, similar to the Oyster card used in London, or a barcode ticket for mobile phone users.

Unlike standard season tickets, flexi tickets are not be available in first-class or child options.

National Rail said “in most cases”, travellers are able to use any operator between their start and end stations.

The tickets cannot be used on Transport for London services, so commuters to the capital still need to pay for transport on arrival into the city.

How much do they cost?

The cost of a flexi season ticket varies, but the Government said are ultimately cheaper for most customers who travel during peak times at least twice a week. 

The Department for Transport said the tickets have been priced “between an anytime day return and a seven-day season ticket”, offering savings for commuters travelling during peak times, two to three days a week.

At the time of writing, an anytime day return from Basingstoke to London was priced at £57.20, while a seven-day season ticket was priced at £143.20. The midpoint between the two is around £100, but flexi season tickets are slightly cheaper than this.

Unlike some day returns, flexi season tickets are not available to buy for off-peak periods.

If a traveller needs a refund, this is calculated from the difference between the price paid for the flexi season and the cost of an anytime return ticket for each day used, minus a small administration fee.

16-17 Saver and Job Centre Plus travel discount cardholders are able to get half off their flexi season ticket, but no other railcard or group discounts apply.