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Rail fare increase set at 4.1%

Passenger rail fares are to rise by an average of 4.1% in January, and some could rise by up to 9.1%. Unions and rail campaigners have criticised the rise, warning that the money will not be used for service improvements.

Regulated fares – about half of all tickets sold, including commuter season tickets – are pegged by the Government to rise at 1% above inflation, which has just been announced at 3.1%. Train operating companies are allowed to raise certain fares by RPI plus 5% as long as the average is still below the 4.1% cap.

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: “Government determines how the average season ticket price rise is set each year. Since 2004, it has been government policy to allow regulated fares to rise above inflation in order to support investment in more trains, better stations and faster services.

“In order to help limit future fare rises, the rail industry is working with the government to find ways of providing services even more efficiently, building on the progress that has already been made.”

But TUC general secretary, Frances O'Grady, commented: “Every year hard-pressed rail commuters have to hand over an ever greater share of their earnings just to get to and from work. Wage-busting fare rises are not even going on much needed service improvements either. Instead, passenger and public subsidies are lining the pockets of the shareholders of private rail companies.”

And RMT general secretary Bob Crow called it “a kick in the teeth” for passengers and “pure extortion in the name of private profit”.

“Anyone who thinks that this massive fares surcharge will be invested in our railways needs their head examined. This cash windfall will be siphoned straight into the pockets of the private train companies without touching the sides while they continue to bulldoze through cuts to staffing and safety.”

Off-peak fares will not rise in Scotland, ScotRail has announced.

A spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have frozen fares for 40% of journeys, and limited others to an inflation-only increase. This means we continue to provide better value for money for customers in Scotland, especially when fuel and energy costs continue to rise steeply.

“We will also continue to invest. We are committed to making rail journeys more pleasant as well as delivering high levels of punctuality. This is striking a chord with customers, with nine out of ten saying they are satisfied with their rail journeys.”

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