Flight-free specialist Byway criticises plan to shorten rail booking …

Flight-free specialist Byway has criticised a proposal from the Office of Rail and Road to allow British rail operators to shorten their booking windows to eight weeks.

The Office of Rail and Road is currently seeking feedback on the impact on passengers and other users of potentially changing the deadline for Network Rail to confirm timetables from 12 to eight weeks before a train runs.

Byway pointed out that Eurostar services to and from Britain are open for booking up to 330 days in advance, and many European operators open services for booking six months in advance. Many airlines open bookings a year in advance.

Cat Jones (pictured), founder and chief executive at Byway, said: “In order to reduce the amount we rely on air travel for holidays, we need to make booking train travel easier, not harder.

More: Byway unveils programme of Switzerland rail trips[1]

Intrepid and Byway partner to offer flight-free travel[2]

“The proposal to reduce the booking window for UK rail not only hinders planning holidays within Great Britain and from GB, it also makes it significantly harder to cater for international visitors coming to GB.

“Our European counterparts open bookings long in advance, so do airlines. If we want to reduce the carbon impact of tourism we need to make it a lot easier and more competitive to take overland transport, and that means allowing bookings well in advance.”

She said the change could see travellers booking flights from London to Edinburgh because that is what will be available when they are planning their holiday, or even avoiding UK holidays altogether.

“This has a material impact on the climate at a time where we need to be supporting and facilitating flight-free alternatives more than ever,” she said.

A statement from the Flight Free UK campaign added: “From a climate perspective, it is vital that rail can compete with air travel.

“Domestic flights generate roughly 80% more greenhouse gases than an equivalent train, so enabling people to travel by train is essential in order for the UK to reach its climate targets.

“Reducing the time allowed for planning and booking train journeys will push people away from making the greener choice.

“There are already a large number of barriers to people choosing rail over air, including cheaper ticket prices when flying, and notably, being able to book up to a year in advance.

“We need to be doing everything we can to encourage more rail users, rather than put barriers in their way.”

Byway suggests alternatives options for the ORR to consider, such as requiring all train operating companies in Great Britain to release draft timetables one year in advance and have final versions of timetables available six months in advance with bookings open at least 180 days prior to travel.

The ORR consultation ends on May 23. For details, click here[3].


  1. ^ Byway unveils programme of Switzerland rail trips (travelweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ Intrepid and Byway partner to offer flight-free travel (travelweekly.co.uk)
  3. ^ click here (www.orr.gov.uk)