ANYONE who has used the train knows how difficult it is to navigate the ticketing system.

Although it’s now possible to purchase tickets online and use a smartphone to pick them up from a station the ticketing system itself dates back to the mid-1990s.

Thirty years ago people bought tickets by visiting a ticket office and speaking to a human being. Rail deregulation added layers of complexity and a switch to automation – largely replacing the ticket office – has made things even worse.

The result has been to create a Gordian knot: 55 million different fare combinations to negotiate using five different databases for timetables, fares and reservation information.

Some long-standing anomalies, such as split ticketing – where it is cheaper to buy tickets for each leg of a journey rather than pay for one combined fare – are well-known if you are a regular rail user, but millions of travellers are still paying too much.

That’s why we wholeheartedly support the public consultation launched by the rail industry to find a way out of this mess.

In a world of smartphones and artificial intelligence it defies belief that the industry is unable to come up with a more straightforward system.

Rail travel is enjoying a renaissance in the 21st century but travellers will eventually get fed up if they have the nagging doubt that the price they are paying maybe too much. No one likes to feel ripped-off.

A transparent, easy-to-use and value-for-money rail fares system should be a no-brainer.