UK rail travellers know good value fares exist. But the problem is that they may have to book ahead or accept other restrictions.

Now operator LNER will be trialling low standard class fares aimed at the ‘walk-up’ passenger.

The tickets in question go on sale from May 14, for travel from June 11.

Crucially LNER is removing the outdated practice where a flexible single ticket can cost almost twice the price of a return.

LNER is understood to be the first Train Operating Company (TOC) on mainline routes to launch this type of flexible pricing.

Adds LNER’s MD, David Horne, “We believe that making fares simpler, smarter and fairer will encourage more people to choose rail, making a green and sustainable travel choice”.

LNER commissioned independent online research (of both LNER and non-LNER customers) and 61 per cent were in favour of single leg ticketing being extended [across the rail network].

Single leg pricing (maybe not as flexible though) has been practised by conventional airlines for short flights in Europe for some time.

It was the arrival of low-cost airlines which prompted the big national airlines to be competitive. Before then customers wanting a cheap one-way had to buy a return excursion and throw away the return portion.

However a similar issue still applies with conventional transatlantic airlines.

Just now I checked for an economy one-way London-New York departing May 22. The lowest one-way price quoted was a staggering £2,093.

But if I were to purchase an excursion return (not intending to use the return half) travelling out May 22 and back October 11, I was quoted just £381 (today’s seat sale price) or £549 (normally).

Little wonder savvy transatlantic travellers needing a low-cost one way with a full-service airline book a ‘dummy’ return.