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Carnet tickets - Practical steps to improve them

We are the local traveller's Group representing the interests of passengers travelling on Thameslink to/from stations between Harlington and West Hampstead inclusivee and have prepared this page to set out how we think Thameslink Carnet tickets might be improved / and features they need to retain.

We have views on three core topics:

  1. Existing Carnet tickets should become available on the Key Smartcard as soon as possible.
  2. Carnet Tickets should be extended to more stations - specifically Harlington and Radlett.
  3. Thameslink Carnet tickets should retain at least their current features.

Existing Carnet tickets should become available on the Key Smartcard

GTR had previously announced that their Carnet tickets (available from many larger stations outside the TfL zones to central London) would be available on their Key Smartcard from September 2020. At their Autumn 2020 services webinar in late August they said that this launch had been deferred at the request of the DfT - so, we believe, it can be bundled with a more widespread launch of new ticket types targetted at the occasional traveller to the workplace.

Member quote:

Incidentally, barrier staff were positively hostile towards carnet users - a stance which treated me as criminal. It was so oppressive that I was close to abandoning carnets anyway for my last couple of months, despite the 10% saving.

This is very disappointing because using Carnets with paper tickets can be a very unpleasant experience (see box). We believe it is worthwhile anyone interested in supporting / lobbying for their availabilty ahead of any wider announcements to write to their MP to encourage them to lobby the DfT for an early release of this improvement (outline letter below). A key point is that this is not a fare change - it is just providing a new way to use an existing ticket.

Carnet tickets (on the Key) should be available at more stations

On Thameslink, Carnets were launched for St Albans, Harpenden, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton, Leagrave and Bedford - the stations that at the time had ticket barriers. As further stations have had ticket barriers installed (eg Radlett & Flitwick), there has been no extension in Carnet availability. We believe that in good part this is due to higher levels of fraud with these tickets.

The use of the Key Smartcard to hold Carnet tickets can be reasonably expected to reduce this risk as the quality of evidence generated about use will be much improved.

Accordingly, it is realistic to seek an extension in coverage. We are differentiating between this extension and the conversion of existing Carnet tickets to the Key as there are different political considerations - the former is a fare change and the latter not, so can be more easily approved as a 'Business as Usual' extension in Smart Ticketing.

Thameslink Carnet tickets should retain at least their current features

We think it important to emphasise that Carnet tickets can have a longer term future as part of wider flexi-season ticket initiatives. As part of that, we believe that it will be important to ask that the discount offered by Thameslink Carnet tickets remain at least as good as they are at present. For instance, as compared to West Midland Railway's recently offered 'Flexi Travel' Ticket:

  • They offer a greater discount (10% vs 5%).
  • They are available in Anytime and Off-Peak variants - vs Anytime only.
  • They do not need to be used at the same rate: 5 in three months, vs 10 in one month.

What can I do?

All the above are 'political' matters and will be decisions that are made by Government departments - HM Treasury and/or the Department for Transport. Accordingly, we believe lobbying your MP is the best approach. We have drafted a letter (in Word format) with two options to choose from:

  1. A focused letter where paper carnets are already available at your station. This keeps to the single topic of converting the existing paper product to be Smartcard enables. It leaves wider issues well alone (other than an observation on retaining the features of Thameslink Carnets), on the basis that asking for an existing ticketing product to be delivered via a new method can be seen to be separate from new/changed ticketing products to further encourage more travel to the workplace on an all-English TOCs basis.
  2. A wider in scope letter with more tailoring options, that, over and above '1' can ask for the Carnet product to be made available at other stations and suggests other changes.

We fully support the wider launch of more flexible season tickets; the hope with this campaign is only to get something that already locally exists into earlier use. Other season ticket and discount options require design and development work and therefore cannot be "delivered (almost) tomorrow".

As always, we welcome on this; is the best option to contact the Committee.

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