Regulated fares on rail services run by the Welsh government will rise by 2.6% next month to help ‘keep fares simple for people travelling between Wales and the rest of the UK rail network’.
The announcement follows the nationalisation of rail services in the country last week, with trains now run by Transport for Wales (TfW).
A TfW spokesperson said: ‘Rail fares help us to fund our investment as affordably as possible for both rail passengers and taxpayers. Any investment will provide faster journeys, more frequent services, brand new rolling stock and station improvements throughout the Wales and Borders network.’
With regard to the increase, the spokesperson said: ‘We are aligning ourselves with the current [Department for Transport] position of an RPI +1 increase in regulated fares from 1 March 2021, helping keep fares simple for people travelling between Wales and the rest of the UK rail network.’
Campaigners and consumer groups called for an expansion of flexible fares to tempt passengers back onto trains.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: 'This fare increase makes it even more important that, when travel restrictions start to be lifted, the industry is able to attract people back by offering fares that match how we know people hope to live, work and travel in future.’
Peter Kingsbury of Railfuture Wales told the BBC: ‘Any fare increase above inflation needs to be accompanied by a range of initiatives to encourage the public to start using the trains again.’
‘These could include special offers to get people to consider using rail for days out and holidays once restrictions are lifted, and the introduction of flexible season tickets to allow commuters to still save on ticket costs if travelling to work less than five days a week.’
TfW said it understood the need to bring people back to public transport when restrictions end and that it would implement a price freeze on some rail tickets.