Call for better service as rail fares increase

Newcastle Central Station. Credit: PA

Rail fares for passengers in Britain have increased by an average of 1.1% today.

It's the smallest annual increase since 2010. But critics say some passengers will be "amazed there are any fare rises at all" because of the quality of some services.

The government has limited the average rise for regulated fares, including annual passes, to no more than 1%.

However, train companies are free to decide the price of unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets.

Rail Minister Claire Perry has defended the price hike:

However, Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: "In some parts of the country, given rail performance has been so dire, passengers will be amazed there are any fare rises at all."

He added: "Passengers are paying their part in the railways - rail revenue is heading towards £9 billion a year. The rail industry must now keep its side of the promise: deliver on the basics."

And the watchdog's Head of Communications says that in the North East, an increase in fares needs to be justified by better service for passengers: