Pressure on ministers to come clean on rail fare rise


Pressure is building on ministers to clarify the level of rail fares that passengers will pay next year amid fears that a further rise will discourage commuters from returning to the railways.

Ministers use the July RPI measure of inflation to determine the annual increase in the price of regulated rail fairs, which make up around 40% of rail fares and include season tickets and many tickets used by commuters.

July's RPI inflation rate, announced in August, was 3.8%. However, an announcement on any rise from the beginning of January has been delayed.

Earlier this month, House of Lords Built Environment Committee called on ministers to ‘urgently’ announce fare increases for 2022. Department for Transport spokesperson said it would respond to the Committee ‘in due course’.

The Rail Delivery Group said last month that commuter journeys were still at just 45% of pre-pandemic levels.

Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) said it was urging the Government to tackle transport emissions now by reducing rail fares to encourage more people to choose the train, rather than relying on 2040 road-based targets.

Chief executive Paul Tuohy said: ‘Rail passengers are still waiting to find out how much they will be paying for their rail tickets next year. After hosting COP26 last week, we’d like to think that the delay is due to the Government giving serious consideration to the environmental benefits of freezing rail fares for 2022 to help encourage more people to travel by rail and reduce carbon emissions from transport.

‘If the Government does ignore the need to promote rail as the greener way to travel and raises fares next year, passenger numbers are unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels which would slow down the economic recovery, do nothing to tackle climate change and add to congestion and air pollution in our towns and cities.’

As well as calling for both regulated and unregulated fares to be frozen, CfBT is also calling for peak commuter fares on Fridays to be ‘abolished’, albeit for a limited time, on the basis that there is low demand on that day of the week, and for season tickets to be discounted by a third, also for a limited time.

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