Rail fares on the East Coast Main Line are being simplified and based on demand in a bid to boost passenger numbers.

The two-year trial overhauling the fares system on the line was launched by LNER on Tuesday.

A new ticket type allowing passengers to travel within 70 minutes either side of a set train time has been launched.

But the changes don't necessarily mean for cheaper journeys with fares being made either more or less costly based on demand for each service.

The scheme applies to journeys between London King’s Cross and each of Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh.

The number of available standard class fares for those routes has been cut from seven to three.

A new fare named 70min Flex has been introduced, enabling passengers to travel on other LNER services up to 70 minutes before or after their booked journey.

The Northern Echo: An LNER Azuma train at Darlington station.An LNER Azuma train at Darlington station. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

The only other two available fares are Advance – the cheapest tickets which can only be used on a specific train – and the most expensive fully flexible Anytime tickets.

Dynamic pricing has been introduced in an attempt to smooth demand throughout each day by incentivising passengers to travel at quieter times.

The new fares structure was launched on Tuesday for travel from February 5.

LNER managing director David Horne said: “LNER remains at the forefront of rail reform.

“Simplifying fares is vital in making rail travel more attractive. Customers tell us they find fares confusing.

“This exciting new pilot is the next step in our plans to overhaul complicated and outdated ticketing options and we look forward to hearing feedback from our customers.

“We believe that making fares simpler, smarter and fairer, while introducing value for money and modern flexibility, will encourage more people to choose to travel by rail, the most sustainable travel choice.”

LNER cited a survey by industry body the Rail Delivery Group which indicated that 35% of people for whom train travel is an option are put off because they find it difficult to find the best fare.

Rail minister Huw Merriman said: “We are delivering on our commitment to reform the railways, working with operators to provide passengers with simpler and more flexible tickets that better suit their needs.”

LNER, which is owned by the Department for Transport, launched single-leg pricing in 2020.

This involved introducing single fares around half the price of a return, allowing passengers to mix and match different types of tickets to get better value.

Britain’s outdated train ticketing system means many return fares are only £1 more than single fares.

Stewart Fox-Mills, programme director for fares, ticketing and retail at the Great British Railways Transition Team, said: “It is great to see this next step in the simplification of rail fares.

“This pilot will move the dial towards simpler and better fares for customers.”

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Simplifying fares is among the proposed tasks for Great British Railways (GBR), a planned new public sector body to oversee the railways.

GBR was initially due to be launched early this year but the required legislation has not been passed and no timeline has been set out by the Government.

Alex Robertson, chief executive at watchdog Transport Focus, said: “The plan to trial demand-based pricing on some LNER routes is a radical change for passengers.

“Transport Focus strongly supports fares reform and it’s right to trial new ideas to see if they work.

“We look forward to hearing how the trial progresses and will be monitoring that it does indeed deliver better value for money tickets for passengers.”