Rail travellers across Wales are facing fresh misery as the cost of the average fare rises by 3.9%. It's 4.2% for season tickets, and some routes are seeing much higher rises. The move comes as motorists have seen an increase in tolls on the Severn Bridges.
Increasing numbers of travellers are reporting a struggle in the costs of getting to work and carrying out essential journeys like food shopping, because of high fuel costs. Hannah Thomas has our report.
The prioritisation of the National Transport Plan has brought forward investment that will make the transport system in Wales work better to help tackle poverty, increase well-being and assist economic growth. Through our ongoing work with interest groups we can continue to address the issues of transport poverty through concessionary fares schemes and more sustainable transport options. Our Active Travel Bill will also make it easier and safer for people to make shorter journeys by walking and cycling.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
We feel that the decision to allow regulated rail fares to be raised by RPI+1% for next year is the best balance for both the taxpayer and the rail passenger in what are very difficult and challenging economic times. We strongly encourage the use of rail and will continue to promote its use as a sustainable mode of transport.
Passengers at Merthyr Tydfil railway station this morning were among those confronted by increased fares. There were mixed opinions - some questioned how families were meant to afford rail travel now, but others praised it for quality of service and price, when compared to the alternatives.
What impact are rail fare rises having on you? Do they reflect the quality of service? How does rail travel compare to the alternatives?
Dan Panes, a spokesman for First Great Western, which runs mainline trains from London Paddington to South Wales, says these fare rises are based on the formula set by government, and aims to ensure 'rail fare passengers are paying more for their journeys and taxpayers are paying less.'
Around half of fares are linked to the inflation rate, measured by the retail price index (RPI). These are known as regulated tickets and include most season tickets. Regulated fares have gone up by 4.2% today - overall average fares are up 3.9%.
Already many hard-pressed commuters in Wales are struggling with the costs of getting around. With many wages frozen, rail fares are soaring out of control. With oil prices only going up in the long run, we need a major overhaul to our transport system so that we can all afford to get about now and in the future. With two-thirds of jobseekers without access to a car, and many households that do cutting back on spending elsewhere, we need to see a focus on bringing public transport fares down if we want to deliver an economic recovery.