1. ITV Report

Passengers face biggest rail fare rise in 4 years

The cost of your rail fare is like to go up. Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire/PA Images

Rail passengers in the region face the biggest rise in fares for four years at the start of next year.

Almost half of all tickets, including season tickets and standard returns will go up in line with the measure of inflation last month. It's known as the retail price index and in July it was 3.6%.

If the government and the rail operators decide to go ahead with the changes, here are some examples of the price hikes we can expect:

A season ticket from Durham to Newcastle could rise by £48 under Virgin Trains North East.

A similar ticket from Morpeth the Newcastle could go up by £40 under Northern Rail.

A super off-peak ticket between London and Newcastle is currently £132.70 but could rise to £137.50 in January.

The independent watchdog Transport Focus has this advice for passengers:

Plan well in advance you will get some very good value tickets, it's the commuters who have to be in a certain place at a certain time that actually bears the brunt of the rise.

However our working practices are changing so many people do not need to be working Monday to Friday 9-5 and maybe looking at some form of flexi season ticket might be a good means to show passengers that the industry is maybe thinking about those changes.

– Linda McCord, Transport Focus

The government says the rises are justified- it's investing in the biggest rail modernisation programme for more than a century to bring better, faster trains.

And the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train operators says commuters can look forward to an extra 170,000 seats by 2019.

Why are passengers paying so much?

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

The annual January rise in regulated fares - almost half of all tickets and including season tickets and standard returns - is linked with the previous July's Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed the July rate at 3.6%, which means the 2018 hike in fares will be the biggest annual rise since 2013.

Is there an alternative?

Public transport campaigners have called for the government to use the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation to set rail fares, which is generally lower than RPI and is used to calculate changes in benefits.