Rail commuters hit by 4.2% average fare rise

 

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus, says the rail industry must keep costs down

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Rail fares for season ticket holders have increased by an average of 4.2% as the annual price hike, announced in August, comes into effect.

Overall, ticket prices have gone up by 3.9% in England, Wales and Scotland, but rises vary between train operators.

The TUC has claimed average train fares have risen nearly three times faster than average incomes since 2008.

Transport minister Norman Baker said the government had intervened to ensure fare rises were capped at about 4%.

"Regulated" rail fare increases - which include season tickets for most commuter journeys and off-peak fares on most intercity routes - are calculated by using the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation plus an additional percentage.

Examples of rail fare increases

Since 2003, London commuters have seen:

  • Average season ticket costs increase by £1,300
  • Fares increasing 20% faster than wages
  • Average costs in real terms increasing by £360

Outside of London, rail users have faced:

  • Annual fares from Ashford International in Kent to London have risen by more than £2,000
  • Fares from Sevenoaks in Kent to London have increased by nearly 90%, from £1,660 to £3,112
  • Commuters travelling between Worcester and Birmingham Moor Street will pay £1,240 for a season ticket compared with £816 in 2003, an increase of 52%

SOURCE: Campaign for Better Transport

Initially the rail fare increase was set at RPI plus 3% - a total of 6.2% - but this was reduced to RPI plus 1% by the government in October to a total of about 4.2%.

Mr Baker said: "We are engaged in the biggest rail investment programme since the 19th Century and it is only right that the passenger, as well as the taxpayer, contributes towards that.

"In the longer term we are determined to reduce the cost of running the railways so that we can end the era of above-inflation fare rises," he added.

Train companies are allowed to vary regulated fares by up to 5% above, or by any amount below, the average change in regulated fares, so that they can respond to changes in demand in particular areas.

Fares that go up by more than the average must be balanced by others that rise by less than the average, or that fall.

In developments across the UK:

  • In London, passengers on the Tube, buses, trams, DLR and commuter trains face on average a 4.2% increase, while some rail season tickets have gone up by much more
  • An off-peak day return between Bristol and St Austell in Cornwall has risen in price from £53.10 to £75.60 - a rise of 40%
  • The cost of an annual ticket from Banbury to London has risen by 5.98%, an increase of £284, according to Chiltern Railways
  • An unregulated return between Birmingham and London went up by 10%, although it only adds £2.50 to the fare
  • Some tickets will rise by as little as 2.3% while one ticket, from Shenfield, Essex, to London will be £16 cheaper, at £2,704, a 0.6% drop.

Norman Baker: "By and large, the railways perform quite well"

Meanwhile, rail fares in West Yorkshire are rising by 6.2% - more than the national average.

West Yorkshire Metro, the county's public transport provider, said the rail prices reflected the extra 3% agreed in 2006 to provide 1,700 additional seats on peak-time train services to and from Leeds.

But independent campaign group Railfuture said there was "huge frustration" among passengers in the region.

'Truly shocking'

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and Railfuture have both calculated that some rail fares have increased by 50% or more in the past 10 years.

CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph branded the rail fare increase "truly shocking".

He said: "The impact of successive governments' policies on rail fares is appalling.

"We have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford. The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares."

The group have launched a petition calling on government to end the above-inflation formula used for determining the annual rise and commit to reducing fares relative to inflation.

Graph showing the increase of rail fares above inflation since 2004

The TUC's Action for Rail campaign said rail passengers will be paying more for a lesser service, as rail operators begin to implement job cuts as part of plans to save £3.5bn across the rail industry by 2019.

'Running costs'

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC and chairwoman of Action for Rail, said: "At a time when real wages are falling and household budgets are being squeezed, rail travellers are being forced to endure yet another year of inflation-busting fare increases.

"As well as having to shell out record amounts of money for their tickets, passengers also face the prospect of travelling on trains with fewer staff and having less access to ticket offices. They are being asked to pay much more for less."

The chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), Michael Roberts, said it is the government that decides how much the annual average season ticket rise will be.

"Successive governments have required train companies to increase the average price of season tickets every January since 2004 by more than inflation.

"Ministers want passengers to pay a larger share of railway running costs to reduce the contribution from taxpayers while sustaining investment in better stations, new trains and faster services," he insisted.

Edward Welsh, ATOC: "Passenger satisfaction has steadily improved .... but there is more we need to do"

Labour shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said rail fare hikes had come as a "nasty new year shock" for many commuters and accused Prime Minister David Cameron of breaking a promise that rail fares would not rise by more than 1% above inflation.

She said: "The government should come clean with commuters that this is a direct result of their decision to cave in to pressure from the private train companies to let them hike ticket prices beyond the so-called cap."

Transport 'overhaul' plea

The shadow transport secretary said Labour would "strictly enforce the fare cap on every route and restore the ban on train companies imposing higher increases".

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has warned that train travel is becoming "increasingly unaffordable" for families and called for a "major overhaul to our transport system".

Chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said: "Many are facing a stark choice, fork out for expensive train travel, own a car and cut back on essentials, or stay put and miss out on jobs and opportunities."

Map showing various train routes and the cost per mile from January 2013
 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 813.

    Back before privatization I remember all the passengers were happy even though the trains would get into all sorts of crazy capers. You don't see faces on the front of the trains anymore either.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 812.

    Greed. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 811.

    If you work in London or any other big city you have a choice:

    Live close to work and pay less for your fares but more for your housing.
    or
    Live further out and pay more for your fares but less for your housing

    Either way your total outlay is about the same.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 810.

    662.Roberto Gomez Bolanos

    I really do get the feeling you hate British people. It's a shame you can't be tolerent of other people, hating someone because of the place they were born is very out of date.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 809.

    618 - A rail passenger "strike" sounds like a good idea to me. Those who can should use some other form of transport for a week - preferably cars so all those motorists complaining about "subsidising" rail travel will see the alternative -traffic jams, longer delays and fewer parking spaces. A weeks strike should recover some of the money the've stolen from us in the fare rises

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 808.

    286.Dr Feelgood
    I work in London, no one lives within driving distance of where I work other than millionaires. Driving into London is not a viable alternative, neither is getting the bus. Trains are the only choice, they are overcrowded, dirty, late at least once a week and cost me over £300 per month for the luxury of standing room only.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 807.

    @Ben92 - I can still find plenty of discounted advance fares between South London and Lincoln, I suggest you look a bit harder.

    @matt - The people on platforms with batons and whistles are there to assist with safe dispatch of the train, Google into what happened at James Street Station in Liverpool to see why they are there, for your safety.

  • rate this
    +29

    Comment number 806.

    If the prices continue rising above inflation I will have to start driving to work - using an extra 750 gallons of diesel per annum.
    When balancing convenience and comfort it's roughly a draw.
    It is a simple choice of cost v pollution - so I choose the train.
    If prices rise above inflation much more it won't be a choice I can afford - I'll be forced down the pollution path.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 805.

    @799. roygbiv86

    Labour did nothing to sort out the railways despite being in power for so long. So you have nobody to vote for. They're all hopeless when it comes to public transport

    --

    I think the Green Party are very keen on public transport and for returning the railways to public ownership however I doubt you'd vote for them in the same way anti-EU posters don't vote UKIP.

  • Comment number 804.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 803.

    The Rail companies operate to maximize earnings for their shareholders, customers are their cash cows.
    Ripping off customers is a well established practice and can, in this case, be traced back to the disastrous Thatcherite inspired privatization/deregulation fiasco.
    The industry is receiving more subsidy now than when it was in the public sector.
    The downhill spiral will continue.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 802.

    788.Howesyourview

    Whats the mean failure rate on a plane?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 801.

    Having previously worked in the rail industry I feel sorry for the frontline staff who, through no fault of their own, will suffer regular abuse from commuters. Having subsequently also worked for DfT I feel sorry for the poor mug who now has my old job and has to reply to all the moaning correspondence. I'm now self employed, much poorer and happier!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 800.

    160. Roberto Gomez Bolanos

    An 'editor's pick' that also breaks the house rules ... my oh my ...

    Lets also not forget that MPs get to claim their travel expenses when they go to work (um Gaffaw, Hooray, Boo) ... so no help there then!

    Can I add with my own Boo to MPs & Train 'Operators'.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 799.

    @785 chascaille
    Labour did nothing to sort out the railways despite being in power for so long. So you have nobody to vote for. They're all hopeless when it comes to public transport.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 798.

    part 2 Then there are the station staff that do pretty much nothing excpet blow their whistles or raise their hand when a train is pulling away. Then there are a few that stand at the bottom of the stairs that takes you to a bridge over the track. Again they do not do alot. Then there is a cleaner. What surpised me most was that Greater anglia then advisertised for a volunteer station gaurdian

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 797.

    How can anyone think train fares are too high? Surrey to City of London for the equivalent of £6.40 per day is extremely reasonable I think. Certainly beats driving and definitely less stressful. I reckon the train companies are pretty good and well priced. Thameslink trains seem a bit hit and miss but generally ok still.
    I just wish there were more first class seats.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 796.

    When I need to invest in my company's ''infrastructure'' & improve it's service to our customers the shareholders in the company put their hands in their pockets and come up with the money. We then reap the benefit of our investment. If I forced our customers to pay for our improvements with no benefit to them, how long would my business last?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 795.

    Happy new year, eh?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 794.

    " I still contribute to all of these things through my tax. I dont agree with the rises but we cant pick and choose where we contribute!"

    ...because?

 

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