The national rail ticketing system should be overhauled and traditional train timetables will be torn up as the network becomes 'more like the Tube', Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy has said.
Sir Peter, who formerly spent almost a decade in charge of Transport for London, said that current timetables would become obsolete as a result of more frequent trains, meaning that services would switch to the London Underground system of simply telling passengers how long they have to wait until the next train.
Sir Peter spent almost a decade in charge of Transport for London
He added however that the ticketing system would need to be reformed first to allow passengers to book for a particular route — turning up and waiting — rather than one service on a set day.
A reform of ticketing was 'overdue anyway in my view,' he said.
'The ticketing system should be led by passenger behaviour, not act as a constraint to it.'
He pointed out that many rail companies were already increasing the frequency of services, even on long-distance routes, and the introduction of in-cab digital signalling, which will eventually replace Victorian-style trackside signals, will lead to higher frequency services across the country.
Passengers would end up measuring their journey 'not by timetable adherence but by regularity [and] average wait,' he suggested, adding that timetables could be scrapped altogether on all but the most infrequent branch lines within a decade.
Addressing an audience of rail industry leaders last week, he said: 'I predict, and not just in London and the South East, that more and more services in Britain are going to start looking like the Tube.'