Friday morning peak restrictions for long-distance train journeys on the West Coast Main Line have been scrapped.
Operator Avanti West Coast said off-peak tickets will be valid for the entire day as part of a trial which will start immediately and run into next year.
Passengers with off-peak tickets are usually forced to wait until around 9.30am before starting weekday journeys.
Avanti West Coast’s new policy means passengers who want to reach their destination as early as possible on a Friday will be able to set off as early as 5am without buying a peak ticket.
Passengers buying a fully-flexible fare for travel from Manchester to London during what was the Friday morning peak period will be charged £64.40 instead of £180.
The lowest priced Advance tickets for a specific train on the same route are £25. These will now be available for travel on Friday mornings.
Friday afternoon peak restrictions on the West Coast Main Line were removed by former operator Virgin Trains in July 2018.
Department for Transport data shows demand for rail travel across Britain is at around a quarter of normal levels.
Leisure travel is banned as part of England’s national lockdown.
Avanti West Coast executive director Sarah Copley said: “Removing the Friday morning restrictions gives customers more freedom to choose when they travel, and when lockdown measures ease make the most of their extended weekends and days out.
“Just as importantly it allows us to spread demand and maintain social distancing onboard our services.
“This will help our customers who decide to travel, to travel with confidence.”
David Sidebottom, director of watchdog Transport Focus, said passengers will welcome the trial.
He continued: “Any move that helps save money and maintain social distancing should prove popular, and when the time is right, encourage more people to use rail services again.”
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