Accent MR Accent

Understanding the impact of fare simplification on passenger demand


The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) wanted to explore the effect that simplifying fare structures would have on passenger demand, with particular reference to advance fares.


Desk research provided examples from the field of Behavioural Economics which suggested that good information could mitigate potentially complex pricing structures. So, in the initial co-creation workshops, we explored different levels of information that could be provided and that we would later evaluate in the quantitative research. We also conducted on train depth interviews before embarking on a pilot survey to test our quantitative approach. Understanding the importance of the appearance of the questionnaire for any online interview (particularly when researching a complex subject) led to us developing bespoke survey software that created a “live” mock-up of a train booking website. After a successful pilot, we used this technique in our main stage of quantitative research, using the Stated Preference methodology to examine trade-offs between fares structure complexity (as expressed in terms of the number of different tickets and restrictions) and ticket cost (as expressed in the range of fares available).


The research found that providing specific targeted information could attenuate the negative aspects of a complex ticketing structure or even allow for more variations to be added without any negative effect. We were also able to provide insights broken down into different impacts by route complexity and between rail users and potential users.

“This is an important piece of work around an area that is very complex but could really impact on customers’ lives.  Accent designed an approach that ensured a more realistic insight response by designing it within an existing ticket retailing website.”
Tony Magee, Rail Delivery Group