Rail commuters face almost 3% increase in cost of season tickets

Rail fare increases will be implemented from January 2 Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA

Rail commuters face an increase in season ticket costs next year of almost 3%.

The cap on the annual rise in regulated fares is linked to July’s rate of Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation, which was announced by the Office for National Statistics as 2.8%.

Some commuters will have to fork out more than £100 extra for season tickets - already among the highest in Europe, writes ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi.

Rail campaign groups warned that commuters will “refuse to pay” if season ticket prices continue to be hiked.

They have also called for the lower Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation to be used to set fare increases, which are implemented from January 2 2020.

The CPI rate increased to 2.1% last month, the ONS said.

The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments regulate rises in around half of fares, including season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and tickets for travel around major cities at any time.

A cap on how much they can be increased is pegged to the July RPI figure, except for off-peak fares in Scotland for which RPI-1% is used.

Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road said regulated fares went up by an average of 2.8% in January 2019, following the July 2018 RPI figure of 3.2%.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was 'not delighted' about increasing rail fares. Credit: PA

A 2.8% rise in season ticket prices would lead to an increase of more than £100 in the annual cost of getting to work for many commuters.

Examples of potential season ticket increases include:

  • Brighton to London: Increase of £125 to £4,581

  • Gloucester to Birmingham: Increase of £119 to £4,357

  • Barrow-in-Furness to Preston: Increase of £117 to £4,285

  • Edinburgh to Glasgow: Increase of £114 to £4,198

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was "not delighted" about increasing rail fares.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier on Wednesday: "I'm not delighted by it to be perfectly honest, as a train commuter.

"The truth is we do now have a situation where average wages are going up faster than inflation, so if you don't keep this tracking with inflation you are actually effectively putting less money into transport and less money into trains and you won't get them running on time doing that either."

The cost of some season tickets will increase by more than £100. Credit: PA

Commuters have been angered by the fare increase, complaining of the service they receive.

Jack Pinkham, an account manager from St Albans, commutes into London once a week and sees delays on most of his journeys.

Asked if the service was reflected in the price he pays, the 24-year-old, who spends around £30 per trip, said: "When it's delayed absolutely not, which is more than not nowadays.

"It's majority evening delays; morning isn't too bad. Last Friday was a bit of a hassle.

"I travel for work quite a bit as well, going around Europe, Madrid and stuff like that, and seeing their metro compared to our its 10 times better."

He added that he stands up for "most" of his journeys.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said the price rises were needed to ensure that rail services continue to be invested in.

"No one wants to pay more to get to work but by holding rises down to no more than inflation, Government is ensuring that money from fares continues to cover almost all of the day to day costs of running rail services," Mr Nisbet said.

"This means private sector and taxpayer money can go towards improving services for the long term.

"We know we have more to do to deliver the reliable services passengers expect but rail users across the country are already seeing and feeling the benefits of this investment with new trains and more services running across the country.

"People also want simpler, better value fares and we want to work with the Government to deliver our proposals for reforming today's outdated system to make fares easier for all."

RMT union boss Mick Cash branded the rise a 'kick in the teeth'. Credit: PA

However, Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash branded the rise a "kick in the teeth".

"Yet another rail fare hike is a kick in the teeth for the UK's rail passengers who are already paying over the odds to travel on overcrowded, clapped out and unreliable trains," Mr cash said.

"This is just corporate welfare for the greedy train companies on an industrial scale.

"Privatisation is at odds with an affordable and sustainable rail network. We need a publicly owned and nationally integrated railway now."