Fares, rail policy and DfT news

30.11.18

‘Another kick in the teeth’: Rail fares to rise by 3.1% in New Year

Rail fares will rise by an average of 3.1% in January, the Rail Delivery Group has confirmed today.

The new fares, coming into effect from 2 January next year, will add around £100 onto the cost of many season tickets.

The fares are set at July’s RPI, which was 3.2%, and train companies have today confirmed an average increase of 3.1%. This will mean another £148 on the cost of a season ticket from Brighton to London, for example, and £100 for commuters traveling from Manchester to Liverpool.

PA Graphics PA Graphics press Association

This fare rise follows the biggest fare increase in five years last January, when prices rose by 3.4%, prompting backlash from unions and the Opposition.

Metro mayors called for a price freeze in the north in September as a response to the chaotic new timetables introduced in May, although Grayling refused to comment on the freeze when asked in Parliament last week. It is also unlikely that he would back such a measure given his criticism of Sadiq Khan’s fare freeze in London, which the government argues has led to its current financial difficulties and helped contribute to Crossrail’s delay.

The independent watchdog Transport Focus remarked that passengers now spend more than £10bn a year on the rail industry alongside government investment, “so the rail industry cannot be short of funding.”

Its chief executive said: “Many passengers, still reeling from summer timetable chaos and frustrated by ‘autumn’ disruption, won’t believe fares are going up again! Until day-to-day reliability returns – with fewer significant delays and cancellations – passenger trust won’t begin to recover.”

The organisation’s survey showed that just 45% of passengers were satisfied with the value of their train tickets, and the watchdog once again called for fares to change in line with the allegedly fairer Consumer Prices Index instead of the “discredited Retail Price Index.”

But the Rail Delivery Group’s chief executive Paul Plummer defended the rise, and reaffirmed his promise that 98p of every pound will go into the day-to-day running of the railway and investment into new rolling stock, services, and infrastructure upgrades.

He added: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.

“Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy. That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country.”

The RMT, however, slammed the fare hike, calling it “another kick in the teeth for passengers on Britain’s rip-off privatised railways,” and accused Grayling of “political cowardice” and of making a “cynical attempt to blame this rise on frontline rail staff.”

Image credit -  Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images + PA Graphics

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