Ticket machines

Ticket machines (TVMs) are designed to provide rail passengers with the opportunity to make quick and easy ticket purchases at the train station as an alternative to using other means such as ticket offices. This is a popular method of buying tickets with around one third of passengers using a ticket machine to buy tickets.

In 2017, we commissioned research into passengers’ experience of purchasing tickets from Ticket Vending Machines. The results showed that whilst the majority of shoppers (80%) selected the most appropriate ticket for their journey from the TVMs, one in five mystery shoppers were unable to do so. The research also identified a number of areas of good practice where train companies should focus their efforts.

We published our TVM review in which we called on train companies to improve the service they provide to passengers, and to introduce a TVM Price Guarantee. We committed to repeat the research to see what improvements have been made over the last 12 months. We conducted our subsequent mystery shopping research this year, with fieldwork taking place in January and February 2018.

Our findings – 2018 research

We have published our findings on this year's research.

Research into passengers' experience of ticket vending machines - Report of findings - March 2018
Press release
Published 28 March 2018

Our 2018 research found that 91% of users would have bought the most appropriate ticket for their journey, up 11% points from the last survey in 2017. Of the 9% who might have bought the wrong ticket, 6% would have paid too much, down from 13% last year, and 3% would have got a ticket without the necessary flexibility, down from 6% last year.

Nevertheless, the research shows that there are still improvements to be made. In particular, the ticket types that can be purchased at TVMs, information on ticket restrictions and validities, and details of what times peak and off-peak tickets can be used.

The number of train companies who have committed to a TVM Price Guarantee, to refund the difference to travellers who bought a more expensive ticket than necessary, has also increased. All 17 companies are now signed up to the TVM Price Guarantee.

TVM Price Guarantee train operating company table

Train operating company Has TOC introduced a TVM Price Guarantee? Web link to TVM Price Guarantee
Arriva Trains Wales Yes https://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/Refunds/
Chiltern Yes https://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/ticket-types-fares
c2c Yes http://www.c2c-online.co.uk/about-us/our-policies/right-ticket-right-price-commitment/
East Midlands Trains Yes https://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/#wrong-ticket
Govia Thameslink Railway Yes https://www.southernrailway.com/tickets/buy-tickets/refunds-and-changing-your-ticket
Greater Anglia Yes https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/tickets-fares/ticket-vending-machine-price-promise
Great Western Railway Yes https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/tickets-railcards-and-season-tickets/ticket-types
Heathrow Express Yes https://www.heathrowexpress.com/faqs/ticket-faqs
West Midlands Railway & London Northwestern Railway Yes https://www.westmidlandsrailway.co.uk/tickets-fares/price-promise
Merseyrail Yes https://www.merseyrail.org/tickets-passes/refunds.aspx
Northern Yes https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/faq/tickets
Scotrail Yes https://www.scotrail.co.uk/about-scotrail/our-price-promise
Southeastern Yes https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/tickets/ways-to-save/ways-to-pay
South Western Railway Yes https://www.southwesternrailway.com/contact-and-help/refunds-and-compensation/refunds
Transpennine Express Yes http://www.tpexpress.co.uk/help/contact-us/price-promise
Virgin Trains East Coast Yes https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/faq/tickets-booking/#cid_10942_0__784
Virgin Trains West Coast Yes https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/help-and-contact

Next steps

It is important that the progress made over the last year is sustained and improved upon. We will continue to monitor performance in this area to ensure that train operators continue to improve the information they provide to passengers via TVMs to make ticket buying clearer and easier.

TVM review related documents

Ticket vending machines review - 10 February 2017
Research into passengers’ experience of ticket vending machines - Report of findings - February 2017
Ticket Vending Machines research - letter to Rail Delivery Group - 9 February 2017
Rail Delivery Group response to ORR letter – 10 March 2017
Code of practice on retail information