A new railcard promises lower fares to millions of millennials. But a few glaring caveats mean it’s not quite the gift it seems…
Full details have today emerged of a new railcard for people up to the age of 30. The so-called “millennial railcard” is an extension of the current young person’s pass for travellers aged 16 to 25.
Rumours of the hotly anticipated pass first emerged last month and have now been confirmed by Philip Hammond in the autumn budget.
The card is not actually a physical badge but a £30 digital pass available via an app that remains valid for a year (unlike the current card, no three-year version is available). It will be rolled out in spring 2018, after an initial trial phase for 10,000 people under 30 living in the Greater Anglia area.
The new railcard will offer users a third off standard anytime and advance train fares nationwide. Holders in London will also receive a daily cap on off-peak Oyster card usage.
But crucially, this discount applies to off-peak train journeys only. This means it’s unlikely to help regular commuters who travel during rush hour.
Peak travel varies between individual train companies and routes, but will typically exclude any services before 10am and often services that run between 4.30-6.30pm, too.
Another snag of the new, extended railcard is that it doesn’t apply to season tickets. So, it does nothing to soften the blow of the 3.6% hike in fares for season ticket holders that comes into effect in January (the highest increase since 2013).
With soaring rents and exorbitant student loans, we’re all aware of enormous challenges that millennials face in today’s tough financial climate.
The new railcard aims to address these, by acknowledging that there’s little difference between the circumstances of people below 25 and those aged 25-30. The Treasury says the new-look pass will help an additional 4.5 million young people with the cost of living.
Tory strategists also hope the move will help to reignite youth support for the Conservatives, after a disastrous election result earlier this year that saw many young voters throw their weight behind Labour.
The expansion of the railcard has been welcomed by some, but not everyone is thrilled with it - especially given its obvious limitations:
Pleased to hear that the 16–25 railcard has been extended to 30. Considering many people over 25 have the same struggles as those in the original age bracket, it makes sense.— Andrew (@superboomerator) November 21, 2017
So, the 16–25 railcard has been extended to 30. Shame it will have no practical benefit to the majority since it will only discount off-peak travel. Again, no savings for workers struggling to fund their ridiculously expensive (rip-off) commute.— Rachel Durant (@RaychiBoo) November 21, 2017
This whole thing with new 25-30 railcard is pretty useless if still only valid off-peak. Be amazing if it could be valid for peak travel, like when people need to be at College, Uni or Work.— Tony Payne (@DJTPayne) November 21, 2017
Many more people are frustrated by the fact that it seems to be a drop in the ocean; a token gesture that hardly resonates against the huge cost of living, pension woes, a Brexit bill and other major barriers that today’s millennials must tackle:
Message to young voters from the Tories:— Devutopia (@D_Raval) November 21, 2017
You’ll never be able to afford a house or have a decent pension or NHS but you can have a railcard*
*which you CAN’T use at peak hours so you can’t use it to get to work, you’ll still have to pay rip off train fares for that. pic.twitter.com/UDEkoHOfEg
Ciao Millenials,— Matt Thomas (@Trickyjabs) November 22, 2017
We're really sorry we've given you £50k student debt, Brexit chaos, falling wages, dreadful productivity, unachievable house ownership & increasing pollution.
Here's a railcard that'll save you a few quid, shall we call it even?
Love Theresa and Phil#Budget2017
What do you think, will you use the new millennial railcard? Are the benefits worth the price? Is it even helpful at all, given it can’t be used during commuter periods or on season tickets? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @stylistmagazine.