Latest Rail News

19.08.14

Regulated fares to rise 3.5% from January

Following the release of July’s inflation figures today, regulated rail fares are set to increase by an average 3.5% from January 2015. 

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), RPI – the Retail Prices Index – was 2.5% last month. Under the government’s formula, this means that regulated fares (including season tickets, anytime singles, and off-peak inter-city returns) are due to go up by July's RPI measure of inflation, plus 1%. 

These fares have increased by more than the rate of inflation every year since 2004. 

Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), said: “Government decides the average change to regulated fares, including season tickets, each year. For a decade, successive governments have regulated commuter fares so as to increase the share of rail’s costs paid by passengers rather than taxpayers. 

“Our commitment is to enable future government fares decisions which work best for passengers, by continuing to get more out of every pound we spend and encouraging more train travel to pay for services and improvements.” 

Despite rail fares being capped at RPI+1%, train operators on some routes – under the ‘flex rule’ – can increase fares by an extra 2%, as long as the average across their routes is RPI+1%. This mean that, in some circumstances, fares could rise by 5.5% in some parts of the country. 

Passenger Focus stated that many rail users will be concerned about today’s news. David Sidebottom, director at the organisation, said: “We know from our own research that value for money is a key priority for rail passengers. This level of fare increase puts more pressure on the railways to ensure passengers get an excellent service for the money they are paying. 

“We hope the government will step in again as it did last year, to ensure that train fares in England do not rise above the rate of inflation announced today.” 

Martin Abrams, of the Campaign for Better Transport, added that with people's wages stagnating, and in some cases falling, the expense of taking the train to work has become a huge part of living costs. 

“If the government doesn't put an end to above-inflation fare increases quickly, ordinary commuters will be priced off the train and could be forced into agonising decisions such as moving house or quitting their jobs,” he said. 

Labour has seized on this message and said it would abolish the flex rule. Mary Creagh, the shadow transport minister, added that David Cameron’s government has allowed train companies to sting passengers with “inflation-busting” fare rises of over 20% since 2010, costing them hundreds of pounds. 

Labour has also promised passengers a legal right to be offered the cheapest fare when they buy a ticket. 

However, the government has rebuffed these accusations and said that abolishing the flex rule would cost about £100m. Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The last Labour government oversaw year after year of inflation busting fare rises – a mammoth 11% in their last full year. They have no credibility when it comes to talking about the railways. 

“What Labour are proposing today is an uncosted spending commitment that would mean over £100m more government borrowing – adding more debt than our children and grandchildren could ever hope to repay.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Al   22/08/2014 at 19:58

Labour says that David Cameron's government has allowed train companies to sting passengers. Urm excuse me but it was labour who was in for the last 10 years and did absolutely nothing to stop this,besides under the Blair and Brown goverments, they opened the cheque book to fund more things that we could not afford,also gave more aid abroad,and landed us in bigger debt. Scrap the HS2, open up old lines which Beeching closed also get out of the money draining and corrupted EU and allow British rail to run our railways again,and not the greedy private companies from outside the UK..

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