Rail fare rise of 2.8% comes into effect


David Sidebottom, Passenger Focus: "Cost of running the railway is too high"

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An average 2.8% increase in rail fares comes into effect on Thursday, pushing the cost of some commuter travel to more than £5,000 a year.

The increase is the smallest rise in four years, according to the pan-industry Rail Delivery Group.

Chancellor George Osborne said in last month's Autumn Statement he would keep fares in line with July's Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation rate of 3.1%.

But campaigners say that fares are rising three times faster than incomes.

'Concerns' recognised


At the moment, the government pays around 32% of the total railways bill. It's widely believed that ministers want to cut that to 25%. Add to that the billions of pounds being invested in electrifying lines, building new stations and so on, and it's a fair bet that prices will be going up for some years yet.

2014 will be the first year since 2004 that the average regulated train fare won't be going up by more than inflation. But ticket prices are still going up.

Ironically, the original idea behind the government controlling the price of around half of the fares on the network (regulation) was to protect passengers from big price hikes. Ministers set the fare rises where it was thought people didn't have much of a travelling alternative. Season tickets, for example.

But for the past decade, successive governments have used regulation to change who pays for the railways. They want more of the money to come from tickets and less from the government.

Some regulated tickets, including season tickets, anytime and off-peak tickets, have risen on average by 3.1%.

The increase pushes the cost of some annual season tickets to more than £5,000 a year.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond told the BBC: "Fares are rising but at the lowest they've ever done in the last decade and that's because this government recognises the concerns that people have about rail fares.

"Also this government is investing £16bn in the maintenance and upgrade of our railways over the next five years to ensure that there will be benefits for passengers like extra capacity."

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: "David Cameron's cost-of-living crisis continues as fares rise this week by up to 5%, while season tickets have gone up by 20% under this government, costing hard-working commuters hundreds of pounds.

"Over the last three years David Cameron has failed to stand up for working people, allowing train companies to hit passengers with inflation-busting fare rises of up to 9%."

Passengers travelling to London from Deal and Dover Priory will have to pay £5,012 annually, up from £4,864.

And the price of an annual season ticket from Basingstoke to London will now go up from £3,952 to £4,076.

Thomas Ableman from Chiltern Railways: Rail fares represent "good value for money"

Unregulated fares are not capped. But a number of these, typically off-peak leisure tickets - including some on the East Coast route - have gone up by much less than 3.1%.

Elsewhere in the UK:

  • Wales: Season tickets will go up by less than inflation, future average ticket rises to be in line with RPI inflation rate
  • Scotland: Regulated peak fares to be capped at RPI this year and next, regulated off-peak fares frozen
  • Northern Ireland: No planned rises
  • London: Transport for London fare rise delayed until 19 January
'Poorly served' passengers

Rail campaigners will be at London King's Cross station on Thursday, alongside Aslef train drivers' union leader Mick Whelan and RMT transport union head Bob Crow, calling for public ownership of the railways.

More than 50 Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Plaid Cymru and SNP MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for the renationalisation of the UK's railways.


TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Rail passengers and taxpayers are being poorly served by a privatised rail service that has failed to deliver any of the efficiency, investment and cost savings that privatisation cheerleaders promised.

"While the shareholders of the private train operating companies are doing well for themselves on the back of massive public subsidies, passengers are paying the highest share of their wages on rail fares in Europe.

"Rail passengers must wonder why they can't have the same cheap and more efficiently run state rail services that exist elsewhere in Europe."

But a Department for Transport spokesman said: "As a result of the economic policies that this government has put in place, the most recent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility are that by around 2015, fares will be rising in line with wages and salaries."

Examples of annual season ticket fare increases

Route Jan 2013 Jan 2014 Rise

Milton Keynes - London




Morpeth - Newcastle




Tunbridge Wells - London




Cheltenham Spa - London




North Berwick - Edinburgh




Guildford - London




Woking - London




Leeds - Wakefield




Aylesbury - London




Penarth - Cardiff Central




Ludlow - Hereford




Macclesfield - Manchester




'Prohibitively expensive'

The chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement in early December that the regulated fare price cap of RPI inflation plus 1% was being changed to RPI plus 0%.

Commuters on their journeys: "I have to stand up every day"

Jason Torrance, policy director of sustainable transport organisation Sustrans, said commuters would still feel the effects of the rise.

"The chancellor's move to bring an end to the inflation-busting fare rises we've seen over the last decade shows a recognition that rising transport costs are a barrier to economic recovery," he said.

"But commuters will still feel the pinch this new year because salaries aren't increasing by anywhere near the level of inflation.

"If transport remains so prohibitively expensive, we will continue to restrict travel choices and opportunities to access essential services and employment."

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond also commented on a plan to boost capacity by converting some first class carriages into standard class.

Earlier this month, First Great Western confirmed it was in talks with the Department for Transport about converting first class carriages on some of its services.

Mr Hammond said: "There are some new ideas we are looking at. This is one of them. Is it going to happen? It may. It may not."

Bar chart showing annual change in rail fares and average earnings from 2008 to 2014

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  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    We invented trains...and now we are struggling to keep up with Europe.

    My solution = More freight on the railroads...spread the costs with industry & free up the motorways.

    20% of the money goes to leasing trains & paying interest to the Rothschild & Rockerfeeler organisations. Somethings is seriously wrong,

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    I get weekly season ticket for £124.20 per week.

    Like many I cannot afford a monthly (£466.20) or annual (£4856) ticket, so end up paying a premium due to my lowly means. I would like to buy a season ticket by the number of days it has, so on a Monday I can buy 5 days worth of travel, if I only use 3 days I can use the remaining 2 next week, and so forth.

    At most I use 5 days per week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    Its all about capitalists getting richer, always, whatever the cost, and don't forget it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.


    ...and on top of it all: even if you DO get a seat, it's far too small for anyone taller then 1.70!
    Never had this on e.g. Dutch trains.


  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    I've commuted for 25 years.
    Perhaps I'm the only one to remember how it was 20 years ago.
    It was awful.
    It's far from a perfect system now, it never will be, but it is far better than it was then.

  • Comment number 356.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    What is unfair is that the cost of train tickets are rising at a time when petrol costs are falling in real terms. In terms of promoting a shift to environmentally sustainable forms of transport and spreading the burden of austerity, freezing fuel costs but increasing train/bus fares is a seriously deluded policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Can anyone suggest how much in travel costs is allowed for in the calculation that being capped at £26,000 in benefits is like having a job on £35,000?

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    @327. InPlainSight

    I have a dream! A fully integrated public transport system paid for through taxation and free or very cheap at the point of delivery


    We have a health service built along similar lines. More of a nightmare than a dream.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    335.Random Advice
    No but you use roads that are significantly less congested than they would be if the railways were to close, which is the alternative to subsidising them. In fact I would go so far as to say that, on a bank holiday weekend when the world and his wife makes a longish journey to visit relatives, without the rail network taking up the slack, the road network would be crippled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    There always seem to be plenty of comments from public sector workers on here.Are you allowed to spend your days on the internet or have you nothing to do?You might not have had a pay rise recently but your income tax allowances have been raised.You are better off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    @309.Jon B
    "I start my new commute on Monday by car - about half the time than the train and a fraction of the cost (I hope!)"

    Count ALL mileage-related costs, not just petrol. Servicing, tyres, cam belt, etc: as a rule of thumb, petrol costs plus 50%.
    Then don't forget the biggie: mileage-related depreciation.
    As a rule of thumb

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    Should go up more... why should my taxes be used when I don't even use them...

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    We are told the fare rises are so the services can be improved (why this is not funded out of profits I am not sure of). We will end up with a world class service that nobody can afford to use. Although to be honest travelling on the trains is a journey into the past for me it is all so old.

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    you were probably born in a hospital and will probably use the NHS at some other time in your life from necessity. You can read and write because you have already used the schools to teach you. You live in a safe area because of the police. You have used all of the services you claim you do not need. Your argument has no foundation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    I recently flew from Glasgow to Gatwick via Easyjet. An hours flight more or less. It was delayed 2:45 hours - no passengers' charter to protect you, so no compensation compared to a similar journey on a train. Train travel may be pricey (but doesn't have to be if you do some research) but you get proper protection from a poor service

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    Think I might start looking into starting up a airline company offering plane tickets into London from Europe. Will be cheap for commuters and I'll make a packet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    What else is privatisation ever about ?
    Still, being british there's nothing to be done .....

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.


    There is not some divine right to rail travel. If you use it - pay for it. If you don't or can't do that then use something else. Why in the hell should rail travel be paid for by other peoples taxes? Are you going to contribute to my road tax?

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    Did you pay it then? Were there hundreds of thousands of people that toddled up to the ticket machine, handed over their cash and bought an overpriced ticket?


    Well, there you go then.



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