I have read this document carefully, and it is hard to argue with any of its research or recommendations. In collaboration with Transport Focus almost 20,000 responses to its 3-month consultation in 2018 were received, along with representations from over 60 organisations. In very simple terms they suggest that, over the next few years, trials be undertaken with selected TOCs of various proposed ticket simplifications in order that, in perhaps five years, a thorough understanding of the issues highlighted by these trials may allow the construction of a permanent GB-wide ticket structure for the foreseeable future. This is indeed a laudable objective, and one it is impossible to argue against.
However it's worth noting some snags along the way. The first is that it is easy to let the best be the enemy of the good. An eventual system which fails to achieve a small number of the desired outcomes but which satisfies the majority of them must not be allowed to be dropped merely because those unsatisfied may have a loud voice. No examination has a 100% pass mark.
There is a system already in place which is vastly more simple than that proposed by RDG - it operates in Japan. The Japanese railway system is like ours in many ways: it has extremely dense commuter flows, it has a variety of long-distance services, and it has deeply rural lines. With HS1 and the coming of HS2 we have Shinkansen-type lines, mirroring the entire Japanese system.
The (English language) JR Railway Timetable contains these words. "Regardless of which type of trains are taken, a basic fare ticket which differs according to the distance travelled ... is required." In Japan a small supplement is charged on rural lines, but since this would be contrary to Scottish Government policy (where there is a social requirement to ameliorate the problems of isolated communities) that aspect is ignored for GB purposes. There is no mention of Season Tickets - indeed the only mention of commuters says that the two lowest tiers of train "serve as commuter trains, requiring no surcharge" and by implication, no discount either. However it's worth noting that this is an English-language timetable aimed at foreign tourists, so any mention of a season ticket would have been out of place. It would be useful (through a Japanese railway contact) to find out whether season tickets are available for commuter journeys. Even if there were it should not weaken the general argument, merely introducing an extra tier that a 7-day Season Ticket would be priced at say 3.5 times the daily ticket.
It would be foolish if this extremely simple model were overlooked in the next few years. Inevitably something more complex than the established - and presumably efficient - Japanese system is likely to be instituted here, but if it is it should only be because a Japanese-style trial on some part of the GB network were carried out, and failed, or showed where a more complex model better served passengers. One major problem is that of overcrowding in the peak. A "flat" fares system will not encourage travel outwith peak commuter flows, and it will be necessary to tackle this head on. Nevertheless the Japanese system - a truly flat one - seems to work.
Scotland would seem an ideal test bed. We have commuting into two large and a number of smaller cities; we have an inter-city network; we have long diverse rural lines - exactly the mix needed to test a radical new fares structure. Ganbatte kudasai!