Rail commuters face paying more than £100 extra next year to get to work – prompting anger that passengers have to “pay more for bad services”.
Season tickets will rise by up to 2.8% after the Office for National Statistics announced the figure as July’s retail price index (RPI) inflation rate, which dictates the cap on the annual rise of regulated fares.
Labour, campaign groups, and unions hit out at the fare rises, saying commuters would be “mystified” at having to pay more amid “patchy” performance including “overcrowding, delays and cancellations.″
Many are also calling for the lower consumer prices index (CPI) measure of inflation to be used to set fare increases, given that Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said RPI “has no merit”.
That would have limited fare rises to 2.1% from January 2.
Fares are increasing despite less than a third of commuters (30%) being satisfied with the value for money of their ticket, according to watchdog Transport Focus. Potential season ticket price increases:
– Brighton to London: Increase of £125 to £4,581
– Gloucester to Birmingham: Increase of £119 to £4,357
– Barrow-in-Furness to Preston: Increase of £117 to £4,285
– Edinburgh to Glasgow: Increase of £114 to £4,198 Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was “not delighted” about increasing rail fares but said passengers needed to contribute to ensure the railways improve.
He told BBC Radio 4′s Today: “The truth is we do now have a situation where average wages are going up faster than inflation, so if you don’t keep this tracking with inflation you are actually effectively putting less money into transport and less money into trains and you won’t get them running on time doing that either.”
Labour demanded the railways are renationalised “so they are run in the interests of passengers, not private profit”.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “Every year, commuters are being asked to pay more money for bad train services.
“The government has sat back and allowed private train companies to cash in while people’s pay has been held back.
“Continuous fare rises undermine urgent action to tackle the climate emergency by pricing people off the railways.”
Campaign groups expressed anger and demanded the CPI inflation measure is used to set fares. Commuters at Kings Cross in London Bruce Williamson, spokesman for campaign group Railfuture, told the PA news agency: “It might be that we’ve now reached the point where we cannot simply put fares up and expect passengers to take the hit.
“They will just give up and refuse to pay. They will either find either another job or another form of transport.”
Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Passengers already pay thousands of pounds to endure overcrowding, delays and cancellations.
“It’s time to stop the rhetoric on fare increases. The government should commit to January’s fares rise being linked to CPI and a comprehensive package of rail fare reforms should follow after the rail review is complete.”
Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said: “Yet another rail fare hike is a kick in the teeth for the UK’s rail passengers who are already paying over the odds to travel on overcrowded, clapped out and unreliable trains.
“This is just corporate welfare for the greedy train companies on an industrial scale.
“Privatisation is at odds with an affordable and sustainable rail network. We need a publicly owned and nationally integrated railway now.”
Robert Nisbet, of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “No one wants to pay more to get to work but by holding rises down to no more than inflation, government is ensuring that money from fares continues to cover almost all of the day to day costs of running rail services.
“This means private sector and taxpayer money can go towards improving services for the long term.”