Largest fare rise in five years as commuters abandon trains


The largest rail fare increase in five years has come into force as season ticket journeys fall by almost 10%.

Rail passengers saw an average increase of 3.4% and season ticket increases of 3.6%.

Some commuters have seen their season tickets go up by more than £100. Protests have been planned across the country by campaigners and unions.

The rise is determined by the Government as almost half of rail fares are 'regulated', including season tickets and some off-peak and anytime tickets. The Department for Transport said the prices went up in line with inflation.

However Labour has complained that the Government has chosen to use the RPI measure of inflation rather than the CPI measure.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald called for a switch to link rail increases to CPI, which he claimed would save commuters £500 over the course of a parliament.

The news comes as the number of rail journeys made using season tickets has fallen by almost 10% to a seven-year low.

The figures from the Office of Rail and Road watchdog show that rail passenger journeys in Great Britain fell by 0.4% in 2017-18 Q2 with passenger journeys totalling 424m. However this was attributed to a fall in season ticket journeys, linked in part to strike action.

‘The number of journeys made using season tickets fell to its lowest since 2010-11 Q2, with 15m fewer journeys made compared to this time last year. In contrast, journeys made on non-season tickets continued to grow with journeys made on anytime/peak tickets reaching a record 101m in 2017-18 Q2’.

Mr McDonald told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This franchise system has completely and utterly failed. We have a fractured, expensive and complex system – it duplicates costs and there are dividends going out to subside railways on the continent. This is an absolute racket.’

The union ASLEF said: 'Workers on average wages pay between 10 and 20% of their income on commuting in the UK. For similar journeys in France, Germany and Spain it’s between 2 and 4%.'

Paul Plummer, the chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, told media outlets that the increases would help improve services.

‘The fares are actually leveraging more investment from private sector and government. It underpins that investment, so we can continue to improve.’

Commuters from Liverpool to Manchester saw a rise of up £108 to £3,152, Maidenhead to London was up £104 to £3,092 and Elgin to Inverness  was up £100 to £2,904, the Guardian reported.

The average commuter coming into London is £146 worse off according to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

‘We called for a rail fares freeze to help struggling commuters, but the Government chose to snub rail passengers and only freeze fuel duty. Today season ticket holders will have had to fork out almost as much as drivers will save this year. That doesn’t seem fair to us or the millions of people who commute by train, especially as wages continue to stagnate,’ said Stephen Joseph, chief executive of CBT.


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