BOROUGH councillors have called on the government to introduce more flexible rail season tickets as more people return to work after the coronavirus pandemic.

Liberal Democrat councillors on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have written to Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, asking for more flexible solutions.

They say that as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, more people will start to go back to work, and therefore using the railway network to do so.

However, people are more likely commute for fewer than five days per week, in order to limit the number of people in offices at any one time, and are more likely to travel away from peak times.

The Basingstoke Liberal Democrats say that these means that for many "the economics of a traditional season ticket no longer make financial sense".

Cllr Andy Konieczko, Borough Councillor for Brighton Hill North, said: “Basingstoke is home to thousands of commuters, who rely on the train to get to their jobs in places such as London and Reading.

“Up until recently, when most people went into the office at peak times five days a week, many commuters from Basingstoke would reluctantly spend over £5,500 on an annual season ticket to the capital. The only alternative was to fork out £45-50 on a series of daily peak time return tickets - which quickly adds up if you’re regularly going into the office.

“However, with the changes in working practices being imposed by the government, the economics of season tickets changes completely - we’re unlikely to go into the office five days a week for the foreseeable future and we’re also being encouraged to stagger our hours away from peak times.

“The government and the rail companies need to put their heads together and think of a fairer and more flexible way of pricing season tickets to reflect the new reality facing commuters. One solution could be to offer a season ticket that applies for fewer than seven days a week. Another option is to introduce a carnet system, like on the Paris Metro, which enables commuters to bulk buy tickets at a discount.

“A growing number of train operators now use apps, online tickets and QR codes, so the technology should already be in place to make it work.

“It’s important that the government looks at giving hard-pressed workers a helping hand as we all do our best to get our economy back to work.

“Without a sensible compromise, we risk encouraging commuters back into their cars, which will quickly clog up our roads and is bad news for the environment.”

The government had previously encouraged people to cycle or walk to work where possible, whilst face coverings are now mandatory on public transport.