The new ‘millennial railcard has been put on hold indefinitely because the government can’t decide who will pay for it. The original plan was to offer 26-30 year olds a third off rail travel in England, Wales and Scotland, as announced by Phillip Hammond in his budget. He said: ‘I can announce a new railcard for those aged 26 to 30, giving 4.5 million more young people a third off their rail fares’.
Despite the fact that over four million people were eligible for the trial scheme, only 10,000 cards were produced in the initial trail scheme, which received condemnation from millennials. Despite the limited initial rollout the Treasury said they remained committed to the scheme, saying they wanted to ‘work with industry to extend the benefits of discounted rail travel to ensure those aged 16 to 30 can access appropriate concessions’. But now the full roll-out has been delayed because ministers are arguing over how the scheme will be funded.
The new railcard was initially rolled out only for those in the Greater Anglia rail area and was expected to be rolled out to those in the remaining parts of England sometime this year. The cost was meant to be around the £20m mark, in part funded by the Treasury. When the idea was first announced the demand was so great that the railcard website crashed, and phone lines were queued for over an hour, leaving many millennials unable to buy one.
Chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport Stephen Joseph told the i: ‘This latest problem with so called millennial railcard is bad news for 26 to 30-year-olds who were promised discounted fares. Rather than introducing rafts of different railcards, the best way to encourage more people to use the railways is to make train fares more affordable for everyone, regardless of age’.
The shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald, said: ‘It was always a promise that did not bear scrutiny. It was not a real policy, it was an announcement. ‘Ministers need to explain exactly how it is going to be delivered and where the money is going to come from’.