Commuters will be able to get cheaper rush-hour train tickets as part of a campaign to bring workers back to the office.

Passengers heading to work on Southern services are now able to buy advance tickets for travel during morning and evening peak periods on Mondays and Fridays, saving passengers up to 15 per cent.

Advance tickets, which are cheaper than walk-up fares, have previously only been available for off-peak services to cater for leisure passengers.

The trial is available for some services in both directions between London Victoria, Clapham Junction and East Croydon and Sussex train stations from Chichester to Eastbourne.

Tickets can be bought up to 12 weeks in advance.

Around 40,000 fewer people catch Monday morning rush-hour trains operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates Southern services, compared with trains in the middle of the working week.

On Friday mornings, which the rail firm explained is normally a quieter day, the number falls further to around 90,000 fewer.

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Southern is also trialling a new loyalty scheme for passengers, with customers accumulating points for every pound spent which can be used for days out with families, cinema tickets and dining out.

Jenny Saunders, GTR customer services director, said: “We’ve seen a sea change in travel habits because of the pandemic.

“Mondays and Fridays are unsurprisingly less popular with our customers because they bookend the week but our trains are quieter as a result, so we want more people to use them.

“Lower ticket prices coupled with Southern’s new loyalty rewards scheme will encourage people back to rail at times when we have more space on board and they’ll help with the rising cost of living.

“We really hope both trials will be a success.”

Southern customers aged 16 and over and sign up for the Next Level Rewards scheme, with the trial ending on March 5.

GTR is the nation’s biggest train company, carrying more passengers than any other operator in Britain.