Another kick in the teeth for passengers - that's how union leaders have described today's announcement that train fares will rise once again. From January the 2nd, prices will go up by an average of two point three percent.
On South West Trains, passengers will have to find an extra £120 to pay for an annual season ticket from Bournemouth to London.
While on Southern, an annual ticket for long-suffering commuters on the Brighton to London line will cost over £80 more in the New Year.
But the government also said today that thousands of Southern passengers are in line for compensation, as John Ryall explains.
The consumer watchdog 'Which?' has criticised the 2.3% average increase in rail fares for next year.
"Today's confirmation that rail fares are on the rise again will be a bitter pill to swallow for passengers who continue to experience cancellations, delays, overcrowding and poor service from their train companies.
"If trust in the rail industry is to be rebuilt, more must be done to ensure passengers are able find the best ticket for their journey and cheaper fares must not be hidden. Passengers need to be able to easily access compensation where it is owed and the system for handling complaints must be urgently overhauled."
Rail fares in Britain are set to rise by 2.3% next year. Here is how the rise will affect commuters on routes across the country.Read the full story ›
The head of the ASLEF union which represents train drivers has said that the 2.3% average increase in train fares next year is 'scandalous'.
The trade union's General Secretary, Mick Whelan, accused the government of allowing the privatised train companies to make even more money than they were already making, even though for some passengers it was an 'ever poorer service,’
‘This new price hike – well above the rate of inflation – is indefensible and designed to punish passengers. Fares have now soared 25% in the last six years.
‘The train companies see passengers as sheep to be fleeced but it is shameful that the government is going along with them. No wonder so many commuters, many of them Tory voters, are now saying they’ve had enough.
‘Just look at Southern – a company which MPs say lets down passengers every day of the year – yet wants to be rewarded even more handsomely for its failure to deliver on the pledges it made when it was awarded its franchise by the DfT.
‘We have the most expensive railway in Europe and the train companies, aided and abetted by this Conservative government, are about to make it even harder for people to travel at a time when so many families are only just about managing.’
A spokesperson from Southeastern trains has issued a statement on the day that it was announced rail fares on its services will go up by an average of 1.8% from January 2017.
The average national increase on ticket prices is 2.3%.
"The overall average fare rise for Southeastern next year is 1.8 per cent, which is below the national average of 2.3 per cent. It is also slightly under the national rise set by the government's for regulated fares of 1.9 per cent - which is for season tickets and peak time fares
“We understand that value for money is a priority for our passengers and that's why we are offering discounts and freezing prices on specific off peak fares, which are the ones under our control.
“For example, our online advance fares, which are already our cheapest tickets, are being frozen at January 2016 prices.
“We also offer a range of special offers and promotional fares on other Off-Peak travel. These include our Kids For A Quid offer, for one adult with a valid ticket to pay just £1 each for up to four children ** as well as our Super Off-peak fares.
"Fares revenue contributes to the maintenance and future investment of services, as well as rail infrastructure. Over the next three years, we are investing millions of pounds refurbishing trains and stations, and providing better quality information to help people with their journeys.
“In addition to this, we have taken on 300 extra frontline staff to assist passengers, we have invested five million pounds in repainting and revamping all the 165 stations we manage, and one third of our entire train fleet are currently undergoing a rigorous refurbishment.”
The independent travel watchdog 'Transport Focus' has given its response to the news that rail fares will rise by an average of 2.3% from 2nd January 2017. The organisation looks after the rights of transport users - including people who travel by train.
“Passengers will be disappointed that fares will rise by 2.3 per cent - higher than the last two years. Passengers will now want to see the industry’s investment deliver a more reliable day-to-day railway. The Government should consider setting rail fare rises around the Consumer Prices Index instead to bring rail fares into line with other recognised measures of inflation.
“Many commuters, in London and the south east in particular, have suffered poor performance. For Southern passengers the one-off refund will be a welcome step to rebuilding trust in the long term. The 15-minute Delay Repay compensation on Govia Thameslink Railway starting next week is a welcome improvement for passengers.”
"This latest fares hike is another kick in the teeth for British passengers and condemns them to continue to pay some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains.
"Once again the rip-off private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank as they whack up fares and axe staff in all-out dash to maximise their profits.
"This culture of private greed on Britain's railways has to stop and RMT will step up the fight for a publicly owned railway where services and safety are the priority, not corporate profits. "
Rail fares on South West Trains are to go up by an average of 1.5% in 2017. The operator says that the rise is below the July inflation rate of 1.9% that the Government uses to set regulated rail fares - and claims that passengers will see their fares going down in real terms.
South West Trains said it is using the money generated by the business not only to run the service day to day, but also to carry out works as part of the biggest investment in our railways since the Victorian era.
The firm highlighted its £50million investment in improvements including:
- The introduction of 100 new Customer Ambassadors to provide a more personalised service at stations
- The roll out of 91 interactive Video Ticket Machines linked to a new dedicated 24/7 customer contact centre
- 1,400 extra car parking spaces at stations
- 1,400 more cycle spaces at stations.
"We have worked hard to offer the best value travel for our customers. The changes in January will mean fares for South West Trains customers will on average reduce in real terms.
“As well as helping to fund the biggest national investment in the railways since Victorian times through increased payments to Government, the money from fares is also helping to drive many real improvements for customers across our network. This includes new trains and major work to improve journeys to and from London Waterloo.”
Fares on Southern and Gatwick Express trains will rise by an average of 1.8% from January 2, in line with the annual increases of other train operators, it was confirmed today.
But long-suffering passengers who travel on the Southern network received some welcome news when a new compensation scheme was also announced after enduring months of travel misery.
Under the scheme, which will go live in January, annual season ticket holders will receive a payment equivalent to one month's travel with quarterly, monthly and weekly season ticket holders being able to claim an equivalent payment for the ticket type. Customers claiming against quarterly, monthly or weekly tickets must have bought travel for at least 12 weeks between 24 April 2016 and 31 December 2016.
Where it has details, Southern will contact the majority of eligible customers directly and a website is also being set-up to enable customers to apply online if they believe they are eligible and are not automatically contacted by Southern.
Responding to the announcement of an average 2.2% increase in rail fares January, Rail Minister Claire Perry said that the Government was "taking the tough decisions needed" to improve railways.
This Government has embarked on one of the biggest programmes of rail investment for a generation as part of our long term economic plan, investing £38 billion over the next five years.
Passengers are rightly concerned about the cost and complexity of fares. That is why last year we announced a real-terms freeze on regulated fares for the first time in a decade and this continues into 2015.
Significantly we have also removed the fares flex for 2015. As a further measure we have asked operators to improve the information passengers receive when buying a ticket.