The UK’s railways are due for their most comprehensive overhaul in recent years following a government commissioned report by former Civil Aviation Authority boss, Sir Roy McNulty. The study calls for costs of £1 billion to be removed from the industry within the decade and an overhaul of the fares system. It also aims to cut state subsidies by giving more maintenance control to train operators, removing conductors from some services and no longer running ticket offices in some of the UK’s smaller stations.

There are also plans to reduce overcrowding and give passengers a better overall deal. Contained within the document are claims that rail users in the UK are paying 30 per cent in fares more than travellers in countries including Switzerland, Sweden, Holland and France. McNulty also claims that operating costs in the UK are currently 40 per cent higher than in these countries.

Following the presentation of the report, the government said it would be implementing a fares review adding that it did not intend to introduce any more financial pressure onto already struggling passengers.

McNulty has proposed introducing a system of pricing based on that currently used by the airline industry. Overcrowded services could see fares rise as an incentive for people to use less crowded trains on which the price of a ticket would be reduced.

Although the government has dismissed proposals to lift some fare restrictions and get rid of saver tickets, it is likely that selected off-peak fares will come under review.