‘Rail miles’ loyalty scheme for London rejected by Khan

The idea had been suggested by a Green Party member of the London Assembly, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Green Party assembly member Siân Berry is calling for a London 'rail miles' scheme
Green Party assembly member Siân Berry is calling for a London ‘rail miles’ scheme

Sadiq Khan has dismissed calls for a ‘rail miles’ loyalty scheme on the Transport for London (TfL) network.

Londoners could collect points with each journey they make on the tube and potentially other parts of the network, in exchange for cheaper travel on future journeys, under the scheme.

The concept mimics the use of air miles by airlines as an incentive for customers to fly with them.

It was proposed as an idea for national rail services to adopt in an October 2023 report by the Campaign for Better Transport.

But Siân Berry, a Green member of the London Assembly, asked the capital’s mayor in a recent written question whether he would create a loyalty scheme along the same lines for TfL services, “to encourage people to move their journeys to public transport from other modes”.

Khan responded: “TfL is not looking to implement a loyalty scheme.

“I remain committed to keeping fares as low as possible, which is why I decided to freeze all TfL fares in 2024. This will make transport more affordable for millions of Londoners, encourage people back onto our public transport network and help to boost London’s culture, retail and hospitality sectors.”

Berry told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I have a history of bringing good ideas from campaigners to the mayor, so it’s a shame he has refused to even consider some kind of loyalty programme to reward TfL passengers.

“If we’re serious about encouraging Londoners to get out of planes and onto Tubes and trains, why shouldn’t we reward those passengers who make the greener choice?”

The idea is already utilised in various forms by several rail companies. For example, C2C – which operates services between London and Southend – has a programme where for every £1 spent by its smartcard users, a point is awarded equal to one pence, which can be put towards future journeys.

Some rail companies, such as South Western Railway and LNER, have rewards programmes which offer discounts on theatre trips, hotel stays and other experiences.

The Campaign for Better Transport noted in their report last year that despite the existence of these individual loyalty schemes, “a network-wide frequent traveller scheme has not been possible to date due to the difficulties implementing it across the franchising arrangements” of the various rail companies.

It said: “Government and industry should work together to introduce a national ‘rail miles’ scheme modelled on successful air miles programmes.

“A sense of reward for regular use of the railways will encourage passengers to opt for train travel, and the ability to use points to reduce ticket costs will encourage travellers to opt for intercity rail which is generally perceived to be more expensive than domestic flights.”

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