RAIL commuters have welcomed calls for flexible season tickets.

Essex MP Priti Patel has asked for a national pilot of flexible tickets to be carried out by the region’s rail operator, Greater Anglia.

It follows Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s plans to try out the tickets to help part-time workers. Under the proposed scheme, season tickets covering just a few days of the week would be available for those who occasionally work at home, or do not commute every day.

Ms Patel, MP for Witham, said: “Many of my constituents work part time or work from home for part of the week as theymake use of new technologies and flexible working arrangements.

“Unfortunately, season tickets have been so rigid these employers are left out of pocket by having to pay full price for their tickets when they may only commute into London two or three times a week. I hope flexi tickets will be introduced on our services so Essex people will benefit and only pay for the services they use.”

Paul Ilett, 43, from Lovelace Gardens, Southchurch, said: “Flexible working has become the norm for thousands of Essex commuters and it’s about time rail companies caught up with this.

“Many organisations have downsized their buildings to save money and simply don’t provide enough desks for all their employees anymore. This has forced many more people to split their working week between the office and home.

“Rail companies shouldn’t penalise people who work flexibly and it sounds like these tickets are a step in the right direction.”

Derek Monnery, chairman of Essex Rail Users’ Federation, said: “This would be an incentive for people who don’t travel every day to use the train.

“For drivers, the saving is only marginal to get the train – that is barmy. Then add the price of parking and it’s cheaper to drive than to get the train. If you are travelling to somewhere like Chelmsford or Romford, going by car has to be a viable alternative to the train, which is stupid.”

A Greater Anglia spokesman said: “We welcome the announcement regarding flexible ticketing and will look to make a case to the Government for involvement in a future pilot scheme.”