A West Midlands public transport champion has denounced “railway card theft” after it was revealed that the discounted travel pass will not be extended for passengers unable to use it during Covid.
Walsall adviser Richard Worrall had asked for a four-month extension of the card – which gives people a reduction on fares – for those who can’t use it during the lockdown.
But in the FAQ section of the Railcard website, the company confirmed that the government has decided to keep the passes non-refundable because it will cost taxpayers too much money to reimburse customers.
He added that trains have operated throughout the pandemic to help key workers and passengers have been able to travel and use their cards.
Around 5.1 million Railcard holders pay £ 30 per year, giving a third reduction on fares.
Councilor Worrall, who is vice-chairman of the West Midlands Transport Delivery Committee, said the extension of the validity of rail cards would have reflected the loss of use suffered by people due to the coronavirus.
He said: “Government actions to actively discourage the use (of public transport) until recently have caused long-term damage to the viability of rail and buses and a shift to an even greater reliance on with regard to private cars.
“This malicious theft of Rail Cards is just the latest move to negatively affect public transport and is unlikely to encourage 5.1 million existing Card users to keep and use them, let alone ‘get new users back on track.
“It is clear that, whenever there are current or future pandemic restrictions which mean that you cannot use the train or your Train Card, you will be paying for a service that you cannot access and will not be compensated. . Just appalling. “
On the website, Railcard said: “After careful consideration, the government has confirmed to us that Railcards will remain non-refundable and will not be extended.
“The reimbursement or extension of rail cards for more than 5.1 million customers would have a significant cost to the taxpayer, at a time when the focus must be on maintaining rail services to support the country’s recovery after the pandemic.
“Rest assured that this decision was not taken lightly and was taken at the highest level.
“Rail services have continued to operate throughout the pandemic to support key workers and the economy.
“Anyone who continues to travel by train with a valid Train Card can use their reduction on their trip if they are eligible for it.”