Rail commuters brace for biggest increase in fares in five years

Research shows that transports costs are rising twice as quick as wages

Research shows that transports costs are rising twice as quick as wages

They increased by 1.9% in January, but the RPI figure for July this year is expected to be around 3.9%, which would lead to the highest increase in fares since 2012. As it now stands, many season tickets to London - including from Oxford, Chichester and Colchester - cost over £4,000, and will be pushed over into the £5k category if the price increase comes in.

Commuters and other passengers were due to find out today how much extra they will be charged from the new year. We have always fairly balanced the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger.

The announcement which coincides with Trades Union Congress (TUC), a national trade union centre, analysis that shows rail fares have increased more than twice as fast as wages since 2007.

The hike, which is the largest increase in five years, is based on the RPI inflation measure for this month.

Unions stepped up their calls for the railway industry to be bought back into public ownership, with Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union leader Mick Cash urging an end to "Government-sponsored racketeering".

Households have seen their spending power come under sustained pressure from lacklustre wage growth and higher inflation, triggering an increase in credit and a decline in savings.

He said: "Rail users in Scotland will undoubtedly be looking to the immediate future where they'll expect the Scottish Government to take over the ScotRail franchise or pave the way for nationalisation".

The rail fare increases will add to an already hard situation for many households left struggling to make ends meet, as prices for goods and services grow and wages stagnate and even drop.

The highest increase was on a Virgin Trains season ticket between Birmingham and London Euston which will have risen by £2,539 since 2010 and now costs £10,567.

The cost of unregulated train fares, which include super off-peak travel and advance tickets, will be set in December.

The formula normally used to calculate how much rail fares go up by is July's RPI + 1%, which allows train companies to hike costs above inflation.

Fewer than half of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to the latest survey by passenger watchdog Transport Focus. Campaigners against further rises are calling for the usually lower Consumer Price Index to be used instead, but also say any rise is unjustified in January 2018 because pay has not kept pace with inflation in recent years.

But Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said: "Rail companies are working together to improve performance now, adding thousands more seats over the next 18 months and, longer term, simplifying fares and ticket buying so that the country has the railway it needs to prosper".

Mr Ireland said: "It is absolutely appalling that the train owners are increasing their fares".

Transport Focus said it would also like to see the RPI measure replaced by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which is now running at 2.6%.

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