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  1. ITV Report

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:

We are helping hard-working people with the cost of transport. We've put a stop to inflation-busting increases in regulated fares until 2020.

This will save the average season ticket holder £425 in this Parliament, and means earnings are outstripping rail fare increases for first time in a decade.

Our plan for passengers is improving journeys for everyone - it's transforming the tickets people buy, how much they pay for them, the trains they sit on, how quickly they arrive and the stations they arrive in."

– CLAIRE PERRY, RAIL MINISTER

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:

People in the north east will be facing increased fares at a time when wages aren't going up particularly fast, so it is going to be more money to pay out.

We know that in the northern network the pacer trains will be replaced. So there is good news on the horizon, but for the moment for people it just feels like they're paying more for the same old same old. And we're looking forward to seeing an improvement."

– Sara Nelson, Transport Focus