Inflation figures to raise rail fares by 8% average


Train passengers in Reading give their reaction to the increases

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Rail commuters are facing ticket rises of about 8% next year, following the release of July's inflation figures.

Regulated fares, such as season tickets, use formulas based on the RPI figure - unchanged at 5%.

This means the average season ticket in England Wales will rise by about 8%. Some fares might cost more.

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said "difficult decisions" had been taken due to the budget deficit. Campaigners called the rises "a disaster".

The rises are part of the government's agenda to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of running the rail network.

RPI - the retail price index - is a measure of inflation published monthly by the Office for National Statistics which measures changes in the cost of goods and services.

For the past few years the formula for fare increases has generally been RPI inflation plus 1%, but for the next three years it is RPI plus 3%.

The formula affects regulated fares, such as season tickets and long-distance off-peak tickets. Some fares will go up by far more than the 8% average, because train companies are allowed to increase fares by another 5% on top, as long as that is balanced with reductions elsewhere.

Season ticket extra costs

  • Brighton to London Victoria - increase of £256, total cost: £3,200
  • Oxford to London Paddington - increase of £328, total cost: £4,432
  • Chester to Manchester - increase of £182, total cost: £2,462
  • Leamington Spa to Birmingham - increase of £101, total cost: £1,365

Rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus said having some fares regulated was "clearly in passengers' interests", although the way that train companies were allowed to set prices on individual routes was "deeply unfair".

Its director, David Sidebottom, said: "Some passengers, who may have seen no investment or improvements, can get hit year after year. We will forcefully advocate change to this system in the government's forthcoming fares review.

"The government's commitment that the next three years should signal the end of inflation-plus-3% rises is welcome but in the meantime passengers will have to dig deep."

Edward Welsh, corporate affairs director at the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), said all the extra money raised would go to the government and not train companies.

Rail fare increases compared to inflation

'Difficult times'

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the "good news" was that the money would help to sustain investment in the railway network.

"It's about ensuring that there is money there to pay for improvements for more trains, for better stations, for faster services - and that's what passengers want," he said.

Earlier, an Atoc spokesperson said companies knew these are "difficult financial times for many people".

But he said that many fares needed to rise above inflation for the next three years to help pay for more trains, better stations and faster services.

"Increasing the money raised from fares will mean that taxpayers contribute less to the running of the railways, whilst ensuring that vital investment can continue," the spokesman added.

There are some exceptions to the formula to be adopted the UK next year:

  • English train companies, including those running into Scotland or Wales such as Virgin or First Great Western, will use RPI+3%
  • Scotrail will stick to the RPI+1% formula
  • Merseyrail will use RPI+0%
  • Arriva Trains Wales is currently using RPI+1%, which applies on its services running in Wales and into England. The Welsh government can choose to modify the settlement for Arriva Trains Wales - its 2012 rate increase is still to be set.

A combination of more people travelling, above-inflation fare rises and cost-cutting has led to rail users' contributions to the railways rising from £5bn in 2006-07 to £6.6bn in 2010-11 - over the same period the amount contributed by taxpayers has fallen £6.3bn to £4bn.

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers says the government will deliver "a massive programme of rail upgrades"

Campaigners protested at London's Waterloo station about the price rises.

"Affordable rail travel is vital for passengers, for the environment and for our workforce," said Alexandra Woodsworth from the Campaign for Better Transport.

"These massive fare rises will be a disaster for people already struggling with rising costs, and risk pricing those on lower incomes out of jobs in our major cities.

"The country simply can't afford fare rises on such a punitive scale. It's time to burst the bubble on inflation-busting fare hikes."

But the rail minister said the scale of the deficit meant that the government "has had to take some very difficult decisions on future rail fares but the long-term solution is to get the cost of running the railways down" in order to "get a better deal for passengers and taxpayers".

She added that revenue from fares enabled the government to "continue to deliver much-needed improvements on the rail network, improving conditions for passengers and helping to strengthen economic growth".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    If you applied the same cost per mile it takes to go on a rail journey in the UK and applied it to airline fees, an intl flight from London to San Francisco would cost £10,000.

    How can putting just as many people in a vehicle that takes little training to operate (compared to pilots) that requires minimal security and service and even less maintenance cost so much?

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    I've been travelling to work by train for over 47 years, I've seen quite a lot of changes in that time. I have to say my service is a lot better than it was. Pricing has been used by governments for years to keep the number travelling down to an acceptable level. If it got cheaper the infrastructure would not be able to cope with the increased numbers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    As if we needed another excuse to get the hell outta dodge.

    If any other private company increased their prices without any improvements to service they'd go bust. Oh wait a minute, we don't have a choice do we.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Gloom and more gloom for the already hard hit working people of UK. Massive hikes in energy prices,car fuel for ever on the increase despite the crude price dropping and now this very, very unfair rail fare increase. Some routes will go up as much as 13%. How much more can we take? I am on my knees now and am dreading the next six months for all bills. Bet we have a cold winter too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Why should we invest in railways at all? After all, we don't own them thanks to John Major and the last Tory government aided and abetted by the Ulster Unionists who had nothing to do with British Rail!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Well, I'm not going to use the trains again until the fares go down. They were already exorbitant, so this makes my decision making process far simpler.
    If we all have to make sacrifices to cut the deficit, we may as well kill two birds with one stone and punish the rail companies for their greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I've just looked into a return from Glasgow to Grantham, the cheapest return on the train is £86. The cost of a return flight to East Midlands Airport (same dates) is £55 all inclusive.

    How can a flight cost £30 less - that's over a third (36%) - for what is effectively the same journey? It doesn't make sense

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    At this rate, I can't afford to work in London or take the kids there for a day out. Overpriced and hardly any seats. What a joke!
    Can't wait to see how the trains handle the people attending the Olympics next year. It will probably be a nightmare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    So fares increase by RPI +3%, benefits by CPI. The gap gets wider

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    I’ve been commuting this year as a Student, roughly 40 miles worth. They increased the ticket price for my travel by over 20% earlier this year, and now they’re increasing it another 8%? I have started to cycle some of the trip as there is a change involved with my journey, cutting off over 25% of the trip, but I can promise you it does not save me 25% of the fee, not close!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    The only reason that commercial companies were permitted to make profits out of our railways was their promise to make services, better, more frequent and cheaper. They have failed miserably in all cases and yet are somehow still making profits for speculators. Our railways should all be taken back into public ownership immediately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I stopped using rail 18 months ago and my gf 6 months ago. Between us we are £300 better off a month. Even taking into account our wage decreases. Working in London for a better wage is folklaw now fares have gone up in recent years. Also i save 2.5 hours each day in travel time. Thats a massive 26 days each year where im not sitting on a train (that will be late, over crowded, smelly.........)

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    We are all having to cut out luxuries to pay the bills right now, so wouldn't it make more sense just to cut the investment in rail for a couple of years and keep the cost of rail tickets at the same cost to help people rather than increasing the average annual bill by £400 to the average commuter?

    Or is this just a way of raising taxes by the back door...

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    @ 79. And_here_we_go_again - that entirely depends on which fare is more 'correct'. Given the fares you see at the station on the day you want to travel everywhere else in the world, £15 is still pulling profit. Find me a single train in Italy that costs me ~£120 and I'll show you a train that has me getting foot massages and eating caviar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    So, if I am reading this right, train prices in England will go up RPI PLUS 3%, whereas Scotland on RPI + 1% and Wales on RPI plus 0%. Why are we paying more in England than the rest of the UK?

    Also, the additional money raised is going to the government and not the train companies - surely this is a public transport tax?

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Commuters are the hard-working, long-suffering, tax-paying backbone of the office-working public. As a single group they must contribute the most to the country's coffers. The main thing they really require from the government is a half-decent train service and that is the one thing they will never get. Why? Because they think we cannot unite ourselves to demand it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Once again working in this country becomes less sustainable. I am already thinking about getting rid of my TV because I cannot afford the license and I just got a letter saying that electricity bills were increasing. Welcome to dung-heap Britain! Here the Government punishes you when you don't work and tries to stop you when you do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Rail fares and rail travel in this country are a disgrace. I spend over £2200 on an annual ticket from Chester to Manchester and the trains are often overcrowded. The journey by road takes 45 mins, the train takes an hour. It also costs only a third lower than Brighton to Victoria despite that journey being far shorter and those commuters having a london salary. I am being forced into driving...

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    If they cut back on the number of super advance cheap tickets that must be sold at a loss, maybe the season tickets and on the day tickets could be more reasonably priced.

    For example. Travel from Stevenage to Whitby (~5.5hours & 3 trains), 3 months in advance cost ~£15. Stevenage to Darlington (1st leg, ~1/3 distance) on the day £90.

    A bit more consistancy would be appreciated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    nieuw divil
    No wonder this country is on it's knees - all anyone does is complain or steal!

    It's amazing how everyone has the money to buy enormous flat screen tvs and six or seven computers - but when asked to pay a little bit more for a train fare, the Russian revolution breaks out"

    No, chum, "everyone" does not have those things. Rail fares are already too high and service far too poor.


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