Fares are set to rise next year by 2.6% from a delayed start date of March 1st. An average increase across all fares will still be the lowest since 2017, and it will only last nine months, until the end of 2021.
Had the rise come in in January it would have equated toa 1.95% jump across the whole year. Until the 28th of February season ticket holders can renew at existing prices and the cost of daily fares will stay the same.
Regulated fares makeup half of the fares and include season tickets on most commuter routes. But operates are expected to make their rises for unregulated fares.
It means, for example, a Brighton-to-London annual season ticket going up by about £129 to £5,109, and a Manchester-to-Glasgow off-peak return rising by £2.30 to £90.60.
Chris Heaton-Harris, Rail Minister, said: “By setting fares sensibly, and with the lowest actual increase for four years, we are ensuring that taxpayers are not overburdened for their unprecedented contribution, ensuring investment is focused on keeping vital services running and protecting frontline jobs.”
The industry has suffered at the hands of the Covid-19 outbreak, hence the government taking over rail franchise agreements from train operators in March. This is expected to have cost about £10bn by mid-2021.
The rise will help recover some of the significantly increased costs met by taxpayers to keep services running during the pandemic, Mr Heaton-Harris said.
Jacqueline Starr, CEO of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Governments must ultimately decide the balance between how much farepayers and taxpayers pay to run the railway. To keep fares down in the long term and support a green economic recovery from Covid-19 it is crucial to get people back travelling by train after the pandemic.
“While passengers will be disappointed at today’s news, we are committed to working with the government to make the fares and retailing system easier to use and pushing for better value deals like flexible season tickets.”
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus, said: "This fare increase makes it even more important that, when travel restrictions start to be lifted, the industry is able to attract people back by offering fares that match how we know people hope to live, work and travel in future."