Rail fares to rise by 3.1% in January

Image copyright
Getty Images

Millions of commuters will have to pay an average of 3.1% more for rail tickets from 2 January.

The rise, announced by industry body the Rail Delivery Group, follows a year of disruption on some lines caused by strikes, works and new timetables.

There had been calls for a price freeze following the chaos caused by the introduction of new timetables in May.

The rise means another £148 on a season ticket from Brighton to London, or £100 for Manchester to Liverpool.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the rail industry gets £10bn a year from passengers, who wanted a reliable railway offering better value for money: “They shouldn’t have to wait any longer for that.”

He advised commuters to buy a season ticket now to get this year’s prices, and to complain when services are disrupted.

Alex Hayman of consumer group Which? said these price rises would only add to passengers’ misery after a year of timetable chaos, with rail punctuality falling to its lowest level in 12 years.

“Value for money needs to be a key part of the upcoming government review and passengers must receive automatic compensation for delays and cancellations,” he said.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claimed the increase showed “a government and rail industry out of touch with passenger concerns”.

What do the unions say?

Unions also took aim at the price hikes, with RMT general secretary Mick Cash calling them “another kick in the teeth for passengers on Britain’s rip-off privatised railways”.

It meant UK passengers will pay the highest fares in Europe. “That is nothing short of a disgrace,” he added.

Transport Salaried Staffs Association general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “A fare freeze would have been appropriate, but once again hard-pressed commuters are being milked like cash cows into paying more money for less.”

What does the rail industry say?

Rail Delivery Group chief executive Paul Plummer admitted that no one wanted to pay more to travel, “especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year”.

“Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy,” he said.

The RDG said train companies will introduce 7,000 new carriages, supporting 6,400 extra services a week by 2021, meaning more seats on more reliable, comfortable and frequent trains.

Fewer than half (45%) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to a survey by watchdog Transport Focus.

Will the politicians change the rail fare system?

By Tom Burridge, BBC transport correspondent

Labour says fares should be frozen when performance isn’t up to scratch. Passenger groups agree.

However, the industry and the government point to more fundamental issues.

With so many people now travelling by train, there are many more services operating on ancient infrastructure.

Government funding for expensive upgrade projects to deal with overcrowding is only possible, rail bosses say, if passengers – not taxpayers in general – cover the bulk of everyday running costs.

And they say if rail fares are frozen, rail companies’ costs still rise in line with inflation.

Again, the operators argue that taxpayers should not be left to plug that gap.

What’s happening with the new 26-30 railcard?

By Kevin Peachey, BBC personal finance reporter

The launch of the new “millennial” railcard, which will be available to four million passengers, is running slightly late.

The Rail Delivery Group had promised that the digital-only 26-to-30 railcard would be available before the end of the year, but that has been put back until midday on 2 January.

For a £30 fee, the new railcard will offer one-third off most leisure fares for 12 months. However, anyone travelling before 10am on a weekday will have to pay a minimum fare of £12. This is the same restriction as on the 16-25 railcard. Unlike the card for younger passengers, that minimum fare will also apply on weekdays throughout July and August.

The launch of the card, which cannot be used for season tickets, was originally announced by the chancellor in the autumn 2017 Budget.

Full details and a savings calculator are available on the railcard website.


How will the rail fare price increase affect you? Email .

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js