Have you heard the 'good' news, rail fares are going up?

Rail fare increases will now be a maximum of 6.1% next year. Photo: Press Association

Have you heard the "good" news, rail fares are going up?

It is being marketed as good news. An end to the power of rail companies to raise some tickets prices far beyond average increases.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, sees it as part of the governments drive to "help hard working families".

  • The average fare rise in January will be 4.1%.
  • But companies could previously add a further 5% to some fares called flexing.
  • Meaning a small number of tickets could have gone up 9.1% - as long as other went down to compensate overall 6.1%.
  • Today's announcement caps the peak rise at 6.1%.
The Government has announced a cap on rail fare increases. Credit: Press Association

In other words, fares will still go up: faster than inflation: further than wage rises. The governments fundamental policy remains the same - the balance must shift towards passengers paying more and taxpayers shelling out less.

While some individual travellers will benefit from today's changes, my understanding is that overall passengers will not actually pay any less. This irons outs the peaks and troughs of fare increases - but the rises remain relentlessly above inflation. What's more, this will not affect train company profits - which angers some passengers and campaign groups.

Rail firms say in reality few fares would have increased by 9.1%, though Government insists this is part of a plan to help travellers. Few of them today seemed to feel this much cause for celebration .

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