Cross Country is following in the footsteps of two other TOCs (train operating companies) *.

It is offering passengers an incentive to book direct online rather than use online rail agents such as The Trainline or Red Spotted Hanky.

As with the airlines, Cross Country, Virgin Trains (VT) and  (VTEC) want passengers to book direct.

Why? Because not only do they save on commission payments, they can also better control their inventory.

From now on Cross Country will waive the £10 change fee for Advance ticket passengers booking via its website.

Advance tickets offer huge savings on the normal one-way fare but they must be booked ahead (up to 15 mins ahead in the case of Cross Country). But if passengers need to make changes they are charged a £10 fee.

David Watkins, commercial director for Cross Country says, “We recognise that sometimes plans can change and a customer may not be able to travel when they originally wanted. Waiving the admin fee means customers can now change their journey up to 24 hours before they travel without paying a penalty charge.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of travel watchdog Transport Focus, adds: “Rail travellers want options and they don’t want to be penalised for needing more flexibility. At a time when fares are increasing, this flexibility is welcomed.”

Mark Smith, the operator of the popular website also welcomed the news. Quoted by he said, “Abolishing the £10 charge has got to be a good thing. But it would be far more useful if you didn’t have to give 24 hours notice as it’s often on the day that things happen and you want to change your reservation.”

However we must stress that travellers must book through the Cross Country website and that, currently, the £10 fee still applies for those who book non-changeable “self-print” or mobile tickets using the Cross Country app.

Cross Country is part of Arriva UK Trains Limited which is operated by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn.

Its franchise covers trains running the length of the UK from Aberdeen in the North to Penzance in the South. And from Stansted (airport) in the East to Cardiff in the West.   But note that none of its trains operate to or from London.

  • Passengers booking online direct with VT find Delay Repay can be claimed more easily. Those booking direct online with VTEC qualify for free onboard wi-fi in standard class.