The Franchise consultation (Pages 51 & 52) seek to bounce the main issue on fares:
Bidders will be expected to assume that existing fares and ticketing policy remains. However, the Government has announced that it will consult on issues Greater Western Franchise Replacement Consultation relating to its fares and ticketing review early in 2012 and the final procurement may need to take account of any policy changes that emerge
However on a more positive light it does say:
Bidders will be encouraged to consider zonal and other fare simplification measures and to consider opportunities for through ticketing schemes where possible.
It also raises the issue of ITSO travel cards (like Oyster):
In particular, and in line with recent franchise replacements, bidders will be asked to incorporate ITSO smart ticketing and other technology to review retailing strategy and offer new products. In implementing these new approaches, the franchisee will be expected to participate actively in establishing a common industry approach to the developments so that any changes to the current retailing and ticketing arrangements retain the spirit of the current Network Benefits, providing a single, national passenger-facing framework.
If ITSO is to be implemented then a simplified zonal fares system seems to be the way forward and this would have to get rid of the anomalies that lead to the ridiculous split ticket system. How would an ITSO card know you were splitting at Didicot unless you physically got off the train and swiped your card?
Many of these anomalies spring from the differences between the areas that were previously in the old Network South East Area and those outside it.
An ITSO card should also allow you pay the right fare for the train (i.e. off peak or super off-peak) without having to guess that you would be able to do this on your return journey when you were buying an outward ticket earlier in the day.
These issues were discussed extensively on this forum on http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=9296.0