The price of more than a million train tickets are to be cut by up to 50% in April and May in efforts to ease the cost of living crisis.
But the move has drawn plenty of criticism from transport campaigners and commuters.
In what the UK government and the rail industry has dubbed the ‘Great British Rail Sale’ – which is a first-of-its-kind offer, and has been described as “unprecedented” – Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that from today, selected train tickets will now become half price and many others having “very substantial reductions”.
With this being the first time that multiple rail operators have come together to offer nationwide savings, the government says it hopes the move will help connect friends and families, boost UK tourism, and encourage green travel across the country.
Cutting the cost of rail travel will help “ease some of the pressure” on finances at a time when inflation is rising, the Department for Transport said.
The discounted tickets have now gone on sale, with passengers eligible to travel for cut prices on certain off-peak and advanced fares between 25 April and 27 May.
They are being sold on a first come, first serve basis.
Some of the selected journeys where travellers can now make savings across the North include Manchester to Newcastle, which was £20.60 and is now £10.30, and York to Leeds, which was £5.60 and is now £2.80.
It will now only cost £22 to get from London to Edinburgh, £25 to get from London to Cardiff, and £5.25 to get from Wolverhampton to Liverpool.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the ticket sale, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “For the first time ever, operators across the rail industry are coming together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by offering up to 50% off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain.
“There’s no better time to visit friends, family, or just explore our great country.”
Tickets can be purchased online from participating retailers.
While government officials said that the offering of half-price rail tickets was just “one of the ways” it was helping to support those affected by the growing cost of living crisis, after having said to be “listening to people’s concerns” and already previously announcing measures to defer energy costs and offer Council Tax discounts for some households – but the move has still drawn a fair bit of criticism this morning.
The Great British Rail Sale has been critiqued on a number of factors, but primarily, for not helping commuters who are facing increasing travel costs.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh was among those critiquing the scheme, taking to Twitter this morning to say that while the discounts this spring will be “small comfort to passengers” after years of “soaring fares”, it’s not enough.
“A decade of brutal Tory fare hikes have priced people off our railways,” she continued.
“This temporary respite will be small comfort to passengers who had thousands taken out of their pockets from soaring fares since 2010, and the decision to end the sale just before half-term will mean many families face the same punishing costs over the holidays.”
“The Tories can’t solve the cost of living crisis, because they created it,” she concluded.
The Campaign for Better Transport has also expressed criticism, adding that it had been pushing for action to improve passenger levels for months.
Although the group welcomed the move by the government, Norman Baker, its chief executive’s adviser and former transport minister, said to the BBC: “It can show the Treasury that the way to increase income is to cut fares, not keep ratcheting them up and driving people off the railway.”
“This initiative, though very welcome, is but a first step,” he added.
He then called for an end to annual fare rises, and a review of tickets and travel patterns following the rise of hybrid working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Family of murdered Salah Adam Eldin, 21, pay tribute to ‘beautiful son and true hero’
The family of Salah Adam Eldin, a 21-year-old stabbed to death in Old Trafford last week, have paid a heartbreaking tribute to a ‘genuine and loving soul’.
Salah sadly died on Wednesday 31 May after he was found with serious injuries on Kings Road.
A murder investigation has been launched, and 19-year-old Demari Adrian Raymond Rose has been charged with murder and possession of a bladed article.
Salah’s family have described him as ‘the backbone of the family’ and described his respectful, kind and caring nature.
They wrote that support has poured in from across the globe, saying that ‘he was so much to so many people’.
In a tribute issued through GMP, his family said: “Salah was the backbone of the family and carried the family through anything and everything. He was our precious, beautiful son and a true hero.
“He was a supportive brother and precious son, a most genuine and loving soul with a big heart. He always found space in his heart to forgive all.
“He was always respectful and had kind words to say for all, everyone who met him wanted to be friends with him and was respected by all people of all ages.
“We are immensely proud of him. The continuous tributes from his friends, as far and wide as Africa, North America, The Middle East, Europe and from every corner of the world as well as here at home in England, his friends coming with heavy hearts and tears of deep sadness.
“Yes, our heart is filled with grief and pain, the reality that we will no longer hear his voice on the end of the phone. We grieve and wait for the day that we will one day all be reunited as a family together again and it will be forever.
“As a family we are able to support one another with the help of the wonderful friends and family that we have in the community and beyond. The support has been immeasurable, with everyone suffering the same pain and loss of Salah. He was so much to so many people. His short time in this world, he has his legacy of being a kind and caring young man and so loved. The amount of people who have reached out to support us, it is overwhelming and yet wonderful at the same time.
“As a mother, I have no words to describe the depth of my pain, grief and sorrow that I am going through, and I wish no mother must experience the layers of sadness and grief that I and Salah’s siblings and family are going through.
“Our lives have changed forever and we thank Greater Manchester Police for doing all they can to get justice and who have been very supportive, and we thank endless stream of friends and the community from the bottom of our hearts for their continuous love and support that they give us.”
Salah’s family have asked for continued privacy while they grieve for their loss.
Featured image: GMP
Coronation Street legend Julie Goodyear diagnosed with dementia
Coronation Street legend Julie Goodyear, who famously played the iconic character Bet Lynch for over 25 years, has sadly been diagnosed with dementia.
Issuing a statement via ITV, her husband Scott Brand confirmed that they had been given the “heartbreaking diagnosis” this week.
Goodyear, 81, played the legendary Rovers Return pub landlord for over two decades across two different spells on the show, starting in 1966 before leaving the show for good in 1995.
Brand told the outlet on Wednesday: “Unfortunately, Julie has been suffering forgetfulness for some time and we have been seeking medical advice and assistance, but we now know that there is no hope of a reversal in the situation – and that her condition will get progressively, and perhaps speedily, worse.”
He went on to say that he and Goodyear “have taken the decision to publicly announce the diagnosis as Julie still loves visiting friends and eating out”, noting that she inevitably gets recognised “and fans love to meet her – and she them – but she can get confused particularly if she is tired” and adding they “hope people will understand.”
The Manc soap star and household name is from Heywood in Rochdale and retired from acting in 2003 after making her final special appearance on the Coronation Street spin-off, After Hours.