Rail companies' power to raise fares in England to be curbed

 
Rail tickets held out in front of ticket machine Some rail fares have been allowed to rise at 5% above inflation

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The rail industry's power to increase fares in England is to be curbed as part of a government drive to overhaul the rail fare system.

Until now, some regulated fares could potentially have gone up by 9.1% next January.

They will now be capped at 6.1%.

But campaigners say it is not enough, and point out that commuters will still have to pay an above- inflation increase next year.

Regulated fares are those which the government controls, and include season tickets, "anytime" single tickets around major cities, and off-peak inter-city return tickets.

They will go up in 2014 by an average of 4.1%, a number calculated using an average of inflation - as measured by the retail prices index (RPI) for July - plus 1%.

Analysis

The reality is, this change won't benefit that many people, not compared to the numbers that commute on our trains every day.

The Department for Transport hasn't been able to put a figure on it, but I have been told by someone inside one of the train companies that it won't help the vast majority of people who buy season tickets next year.

Don't get me wrong. For those that do benefit there's a significant saving, potentially £30-40 a month. I could use that - frankly, couldn't we all?

But it's not as if fares will go down. Commuters' fares will still go up next January by more than inflation - and that will be for the eleventh year in a row.

Train companies can add up to 5% on top of the average rise, although fares that go up by more than the average must be balanced by others that rise by less or fall.

The government plans to limit that extra increase to 2% in the future. But the provision for the average regulated ticket price to go up by 1% more than inflation remains.

'Taking action'

The move is part of the government's Fares and Ticketing review being published by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.

Mr McLoughlin told the BBC he thought rail users would get "quite a lot of benefit" from the cap.

He said: "Commuters will benefit from knowing there is a strict limit on the amount rail companies can put up the cost. People had been seeing 10% rises."

Those commuters who wanted to see more capacity on trains welcomed the government's investment into stations such as London Bridge, he said.

Mr McLoughlin added: "If we didn't take action, people would complain that we are not taking action. We are taking action, we are investing in the railways, we are trying to keep the price down as much as we can."

He said he was "always looking" at how to reduce the pressure on the passenger.

Mix and match

The government will also detail a pilot scheme that could see all long-distance rail tickets sold on a single-leg basis, not as returns.

It says this could allow passengers to more easily "mix and match" different ticket types when planning a return journey.

Other plans to be revealed by the Transport Secretary include:

  • 'touch in, touch out' season tickets that could benefit part-time workers
  • a code of conduct for train companies designed to make it easier for passengers to choose the best ticket for their journey
  • strengthening of rules on how train companies alter opening times at station ticket offices.

Mary Creagh, the shadow transport secretary, said the new cap on fares would be "cold comfort for commuters".

"It has taken 18 months, delivers fare increases of up to 6% and is too little too late," she said.

"This announcement doesn't go as far as Labour's plans which would prevent train companies from increasing fares beyond one per cent above inflation."

Graph showing the increase of rail fares above inflation since 2004
 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 610.

    That very good news , re nationalising the Railways will save a fortune on Administration and tax avoidance.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 609.

    Just returned from Spain. Public transport there is generally efficient, clean and cheap. The opposite of ours in fact.

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 608.

    Leeds - Huddersfield, 18 miles, annual season £1264

    St Albans - London, 18 miles, annual season £3112


    First Group - greedy, greedy, greedy!!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 607.

    576.Rob jones
    Clearly a rail system which has too higher fares is not a successful mass transit system to support wealth creation in the UK

    It's not the fares that is the problem it is the capacity at peak times. And how do you increase capacity? Investment - and that has to come from either users or the tax-payer. Oh, Labour didn't leave us with any money, so...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 606.

    @588 Paul - Yes, fair enough. However Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and it won't be that long before it can be efficiently harnessed/harvested. Horses still need to be fed. And let's not forget what the by-product is of doing that. Yep, more CO2.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 605.

    581.ferafestiva
    I’m entitled to help for 4 reasons 1/ I work hard 2/ my children will one day pay for you in your old age. 3/ The traditional family is the only important unit & so should be honoured & encouraged. 4/ My wife (she is due triplets in Dec) & I’ve done the country a great service & yet you refer to me a breeder. I assume You’re jealous as you don’t have a family?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 604.

    581.ferafestiva

    I believe this person said he was part of a working family, so why give him grief him for having seven kids?

    There is nothing wrong with having a big family, especially one where everyone helps each other- teaches the kids to be humble, to share and to contribute.

    Either way, they have a right to travel cheaply same as everyone else!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 603.

    The success of privatisation for the shareholders is obvious - not so for the traveller. And we are proceeding with privatising prisons, schools, hospital services.....

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 602.

    11.countryboy
    'a privately owned company now has the price it charges for its service set by the government , it is also subsidised by the government , in actual fact it is nationalised except the money goes into already wealthy peoples pockets and not back into the system . this country is beginning to stink of corruption .'

    Beginning? Where have you been for the last ten years?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 601.

    590 Sally the Rothbardian

    You are quite right that central planners cannot know the most efficient way to allocate resources. Again, that is true of both state owned and private enterprises. The rail industry has proved in public and private hands.

    The answer is to remove central planners, and again, the economic system is irrelevant. What's missing is good management, not competition.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 600.

    The cost is now so high it is financially not viable to work in London. The difference in salaries after tax from working local to working in London does not cover the cost of the the season ticket. We should boycott the trains for a week and see how nervous the government gets when the City turns into a ghost town. This is profiteering plain and simple.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 599.

    Sally @387
    Because of under/non investment by previous governments, a complete failure to invest in the infrastructure of the country.
    Infrastructure is required for any country to prosper and should not be seen as an extra way to turn some cash.
    Glad to have been of some help !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 598.

    a 6.1% cap doesn't go far enough I'm afraid. Howabout a price freeze or even legal action against these companies who have really robbed people of money year in year out. The fares don't keep the company going they literally supply the board in big houses, port and cigars by the look of the yearly profit/bonus returns.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 597.

    561.kc_chiefs - I'll admit I am not familiar with the rail system in the UK these days - but it seems many of you have forgotten how bad it was under the British Rail nationalised scam

    The current, private rail operators get 4 times the taxpayer subsidy that BR did, taking into account inflation!

    And you think British Rail was a scam?!?!?

  • Comment number 596.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 595.

    Well you've got to pay for the millions that the shareholders are getting in dividends every year, somehow!! Compared to the peanuts that the rail workers get in pay rises!!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 594.

    It all comes down to money and the lack of it.

    Thank you bankers.
    Thank you polititians.
    Thank you Capitalism.

    Why are we still trying to live in a system that is broke?

    Now is the time to start looking for a better economic system that benefits all hard workers and not just those who know how to milk the system.

    The fat cats will not let you vote away their wealth.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 593.

    The problem with this country compared to Europe is 'weighted' train tickets depending on where/when you travel. European rail fares have always been based on kilometres travelled. Why should a ticket to London cost 4 times as much as a similar distance to a different destination and a ticket to Manchester from my home costs 20% less than a ticket to closer destinations!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 592.

    So Controlling Power Prices is a Lunatic Marxist Conspiracy while controlling Train Prices (Trains run or Power) is a sensible move!

    This Government doesn't know what it's bloody doing

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 591.

    If you live in London and most of the price issues are about London - my advice , leave London and and enjoy the real live some where else....
    London is a joke to live in...

 

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