UPDATE: Rail passengers could pay more to travel in rush-hours - what do you think?
Rail passengers look set to be hit by higher ticket prices and thousands of jobs could be lost in the industry.
Rail passengers could pay more to travel during rush-hours under new Government proposals.
Fares and ticketing proposals to be consulted on include consideration of 'using price signals to smooth demand across the commuter peak'.
The consultation stated: 'If commuter demand could be 'smoothed' even within the 7-10am and 4-7pm windows, this would enable capacity to be used more effectively and could allow more people to travel by rail overall.'
The consultation paper also discussed the possibility of closing some ticket offices and was published today as part of a rail command paper.
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Launched by Transport Secretary Justine Greening, the paper contained the Government's response to a Whitehall-commissioned rail value-for-money report published last year by Sir Roy McNulty.
'Part of the consultation is about asking everybody how we can manage demand better,' said Ms Greening.
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She went on: 'We want fares to remain affordable. There may be some ability to incentivise people to travel off-peak.'
In a statement to the House of Commons, Ms Greening said reforms of the rail industry would achieve substantial savings which 'would allow us to cut and then abolish above-inflation rises in average regulated fares (which include season tickets)'.
She said that the Government would expand smart ticketing 'to give more passengers the kinds of benefits that travellers in the capital already enjoy with Oyster cards'.
Ms Greening said Sir Roy had concluded that inefficiency was costing farepayers and taxpayers �3.5 billion a year.
She said the rail industry would work together to eliminate this �3.5 billion inefficiency gap by 2019.
The Government plans also outlined a reforming of rail franchises, strengthening of the powers of the Office of Rail Regulation and better punctuality and real-time travel information.
'It is time to bring fares out of the 1970s and into the 21st century,' said Ms Greening.
The transport union TSSA said plans to sell rail tickets 'like lottery tickets in corner shops' would produce 'rocketing fares and millions of losers'.
The union's general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: 'Private rail companies will be able to inflict-inflation busting fares rises every year on passengers who will have no proper advice about what ticket to buy at their local shop, library or post office.'
He warned that more than 700 smaller ticket offices could also now close.
Mr Cortes went on: 'This is a missed opportunity by ministers who are putting the interests of the private train companies ahead of millions of passengers.
'By green-lighting higher super-peak fares, they are in danger of turning the railways into a rich man's toy, to use (former transport secretary) Philip Hammond's very own graphic phrase.'
Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) chief executive Richard Price said: 'Rail customers and taxpayers have high expectations of our railways and need to be sure they get a good deal for their money. We welcome the Government's Command Paper and its clear vision with customers at its heart.'
What do you think of the impending rise in prices? Leave comments below.