Welsh Government 'considering its options' as rail passengers face fares increase

The Welsh Government says it is "considering the options available to us" after the the UK Government announced that train passengers will be hit with the largest fares rise in nearly a decade next year.

The Department for Transport announced ticket price increases in England will be capped at 3.8% from March 1. Wales usually matches changes made in England.

The figure of 3.8% is in line with July's Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.

It will be the steepest increase since January 2013, according to figures from industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

This year's rise in fares in England and Wales was based on the previous July's RPI plus one percentage point.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "We are committed to increasing public transport use in Wales and competitively-priced fares are an important way to do this. We are considering the options available to us."

A 3.8% rise would lead to hikes in the cost of annual season tickets such as:

  • - Neath to Cardiff: Up £70 to £1,922

  • - Brighton to London (any route): Up £194 to £5,302

  • - Liverpool to Manchester (any route): Up £105 to £2,865

Increases are normally implemented on the first working day of every year, but have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

UK Government Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris described the 3.8% rise as a "fair balance" which means the Government can "continue to invest record amounts into a more modern, reliable railway, ease the burden on taxpayers and protect passengers from the highest RPI in years".

He added that delaying the changes until March enables people to save money by giving them longer to renew their tickets at current prices.

Credit: pa

But shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh claimed the "brutal" fares increase are "a nightmare before Christmas for millions of passengers".

She continued: "Families already facing soaring taxes and bills will now be clobbered with an eye-watering rise in the cost of the daily commute."

Rail union the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association accused the Government of being "hell-bent on discouraging rail travel", claiming the fares increase will "put yet more people off and price many out of rail travel completely".

Demand for rail travel is more than 40% below pre-coronavirus levels.

Rail fares in Northern Ireland are set by state-owned operator Translink, which does not use RPI.

The DfT also announced the Book with Confidence scheme will be extended until March 31.

This allows passengers to change their travel plans up until the night before departure, without being charged a fee, or cancel their tickets and receive a refund in the form of rail vouchers.