Rail fare rise in England to be 'temporarily frozen' until 2023 then set below inflation

The government says it won't use July’s retail price index measure of inflation to calculate how much to raise fares in 2023. Credit: PA

England's next rail fare rise has been delayed amid the cost of living crisis and will not be higher than inflation, transport bosses have confirmed today.

The government has announced the increase will be less than July’s retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation, to help commuters cope with the soaring costs of everyday life, .

The price rise - which will now not come into effect until next year after being 'temporarily frozen' due to pressure on consumer spending - is typically calculated by the previous July’s RPI.

Ahead of the rate for 2023 being announced on Wednesday, the Department of Transport (DfT) confirmed it would not be increasing fares as much as the July RPI figure. 

RPI inflation is currently 11.8%. It is calculated separately from Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation, which the Bank of England has warned could rise to 13.3% by October, as it forecast a recession lasting more than year to take grip by this autumn.

The Bank earlier this month raised interest rates to 1.75% from 1.25%, in the largest single hike in nearly three decades.

A DfT spokesperson said of the rail fare prices on Monday: "The government is taking decisive action to reduce the impact inflation will have on rail fares during the cost of living crisis and will not be increasing fares as much as the July RPI figure."

They added: “We are also again delaying the increase to March 2023, temporarily freezing fares for passengers to travel at a lower price for the entirety of January and February as we continue to take steps to help struggling households," they added.

It is not yet clear how much lower the rise will be, compared to the RPI figure.

The increase which usually comes into effect in January will be delayed until March in a bid ‘to help struggling households.' Credit: Alamy/PA

Campaigners have been lobbying for the government to do away with the RPI method of calculating the annual fare increase.

Paul Tuohy, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said rises in train fares meant the government was "in very real danger of pricing people off the rails," and called for a fare freeze for 2023.

It comes as rail industry bosses and the Aslef union are expected to hold formal talks in the coming days after a strike on Saturday crippled large parts of the UK network.

Picket lines were set up across the UK including in Ashford, London, Hull, Manchester and Liverpool amid disputes over jobs, pay and conditions.

Further strikes are also planned for Thursday and Friday with members of the RMT and TSSA unions staging industrial action.

Earlier this year the largest rise in rail fares in nearly a decade added more than £100 to the cost of many annual season tickets.

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