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Commuters brace themselves for 3.2% rail fare rise

Photo: PA

Campaigners, trade unions and politicians have criticised the 3.2% rise in commuters' train fares next year.

Pressure group the Campaign for Better Transport urged the Government to "commit to a fares freeze".

The exact increase was confirmed when the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation was released by the Office for National Statistics this morning (Wednesday).

That would mean the average annual season ticket from Bedford to London would increase by £150, while a year's travel from Chelmsford to London would go up £131.

Credit: PA

The fare increase announcement comes as new research shows passenger satisfaction with rail punctuality and reliability has fallen in the last 10 years

Credit: PA

Here are a few Q & A's about rail fares.

When will fares go up? Rail fares become more expensive every January.

Who decides how much they go up by? Increases in about 40% of fares are regulated by the Government. The rest are decided by train companies.

Which fares are regulated? Season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and Anytime tickets around major cities.

How does the Government decide what the increase in regulated fares should be? It uses the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.

What about CPI? In January, the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said RPI has "no merit", adding that "virtually everyone recognises" the alternative Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which is lower.

Who pays for the railways? It has been the policy of successive governments to reduce the funding of the railways by taxpayers and increase the relative contribution of passengers.

Where does the money go? The Rail Delivery Group says 98p of every pound spent on train fares is invested back into the railway.

What do passenger groups say? They claim fare rises are pricing people off the railways because wages are not increasing at the same rate.

What is the Government's response? It acknowledges that fare increases are "unwelcome" but insists it is "not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do".

Is there any way of avoiding the fare rise? Savvy commuters renew their season tickets in the days before the annual rise. Passengers can also save money by getting a railcard, travelling off-peak and booking in advance, although these options are not available for many journeys particularly by commuters

Where does the money go? The Rail Delivery Group says 98p of every pound spent on train fares is invested back into the railway.

What do passenger groups say? They claim fare rises are pricing people off the railways because wages are not increasing at the same rate.

What is the Government's response? It acknowledges that fare increases are "unwelcome" but insists it is "not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do".

Is there any way of avoiding the fare rise? Savvy commuters renew their season tickets in the days before the annual rise. Passengers can also save money by getting a railcard, travelling off-peak and booking in advance, although these options are not available for many journeys, particularly by commuters