Rail fares in England to increase by 4.9% next year

After a year of rail misery the government has announced fares will increase by almost 5%, ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports

Rail fares in England will increase by up to 4.9% from March 3 next year, the Department for Transport has said.

The cap regulates the price increase for season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance routes and flexible tickets for travel around major cities.

July’s RPI measure of inflation, which is traditionally used to determine annual fare rises, was 9.0%.

The previous cap on increases in regulated fares was 5.9%.

The rise will likely anger commuters who have faced a year of increasingly unreliable trains after a year of strikes.

The rail service has been crippled by strikes over the past few years. Credit: PA

The unreliability of the train network in recent years has become a political battleground, with Labour fiercely criticising the government's management of the situation.

In the past few days trains were cancelled on the Eurostar after an unexpected strike by workers in France and Heathrow Express cancelled half its services on Monday.

The Great Western Railway, which is already being investigated by the Office of Rail and Road over poor reliability, cancelled several trains this week after point failures in Slough.

Thousands of passengers were stranded on trains near London Paddington earlier this month for several hours in west London after overhead electric cables were damaged.

A spokesman for watchdog London TravelWatch said: “These new rail fares will see already hard-pressed passengers hit with another unwelcome price hike.

“Reform to rail fares and ticketing could not be more urgent now.

“Government needs to set out an alternative vision that makes public transport appealing – this includes affordable fares, rolling out contactless payment options, and improving train service punctuality so passengers are getting real value-for-money.”

The Department for Transport said its actions will keep regulated fares more than 9% lower than they would have been if increases matched RPI in the last two years.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "Having met our target of halving inflation across the economy, this is a significant intervention by the government to cap the increase in rail fares below last year's rise.

"Changed working patterns after the pandemic mean that our railways are still losing money and require significant subsidies, so this rise strikes a balance to keep our railways running, while not overburdening passengers.

"We remain committed to supporting the rail sector reform outdated working practices to help put it on a sustainable financial footing."

The Scottish Government announced on Wednesday that all ScotRail fares will rise by 8.7% from April 1.

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