Train fares set to rise by average of 2.3% next year
Train fares in Britain will go up by an average of 2.3% from 2 January next year, the rail industry has announced.
The increase covers both regulated fares such as season tickets, which account for 40% of all train journeys, and unregulated fares like off-peak leisure tickets which account for 60%.
While the rise in regulated fares had already been capped at July's Retail Prices Index inflation rate of 1.9%, some unregulated fares face no cap and will therefore rise by considerably more than 2.3%.
Paul Plummer, the chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “We understand how passengers feel when fares go up, and we know that in some places they haven’t always got the service they pay for.
“Around 97p in every pound passengers pay goes back into running and improving services. Fares are influenced by government policy, either through government-regulated fares such as season tickets or as a result of the payments train companies make to government. This money helps government to support the biggest investment in our railway since Victorian times.”
The increase was not welcomed by others within the industry as campaigners, watchdogs and unions criticised the increase.
Lianna Etkind of the Campaign for Better Transport warned that passengers were being ‘priced off the railways’ and accused the government of taking its time to introduce flexible season tickets offering discounts to Britain’s part-time workers.
“The train operating companies and the government need to work closely together to provide fairer, simpler and cheaper fares making sure people are always sold the cheapest ticket available,” Etkind said.
“Between 1995 and 2016 passengers have seen average fares increase by 23.5% and much more needs to be done by train operators and the government to give them a truly affordable railway.”
The 2.3% increase is higher than in 2015 and 2016 but still lower than the recent high at the turn of the decade which saw prices jump up by around 6%.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said that passengers will be “disappointed” by the rise.
“Passengers will now want to see the industry’s investment deliver a more reliable day-to-day railway,” added Smith.
“The government should consider setting rail fare rises around the Consumer Prices Index instead to bring rail fares into line with other recognised measures of inflation.”
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, called the announcement “another kick in the teeth for British passengers” adding that travellers in the UK paid some of the highest fares in Europe “to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains”.
“Once again the rip-off private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank as they whack up fares and axe staff in all-out dash to maximise their profits,” Cash said.
“This culture of private greed on Britain’s railways has to stop and RMT will step up the fight for a publicly owned railway where services and safety are the priority, not corporate profits.”
Last month London mayor Sadiq Khan called for DfT to freeze fares on suburban London routes, warning of potential fare increases across the network.
(Image: c. Lauren Hurley and PA Wire)
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