Rail commuter fares increase by 4.2%

Mind the gap

Some commuters returning to work after the Christmas break face paying almost £300 more for a year's travel after train companies hike up prices.

Season-ticket holders face average increases of 4.2%, heaping more misery on commuters.

On average, ticket prices have gone up by 3.9% in England, Wales and Scotland, but rises vary between train operators.

The regulated rail fare increases are calculated by using the retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation plus an additional 1%.

As the cost of getting to work by rail looks set to keep rising, we look at cheaper ways to get you to your desk on time.

1. Get on your bike

Unless your office is hours away, cycling to work is an excellent way to save money and get fit at the same time. Bear in mind it's worth investing in kit such as lights, lycra and a lock, checking the quickest and safest cycle routes and making sure there's a shower and changing room at work for days when the weather is not your friend.

If your company is signed up to the government's cycle to work scheme (a salary sacrifice scheme), you and your employer will be able to make a tax saving. This works by the employer buying the bike for you, before tax, then you pay for it in instalments over time. More information can be found at cyclescheme.co.uk.

Of course, if your office is within walking distance, try getting up a bit earlier and enjoying a morning stroll to your desk.

2. Take the coach

The train may be your most direct route in the morning but there might be buses or coaches that will do the job for half the cost. It's worth browsing the local timetables or getting in touch with some of the operators to see if you could save by taking the bus. Do a test run on the bus or coach before you commit to make sure it's a viable way into work.

3. Share your journey

Driving to work is becoming less and less attractive as traffic increases and petrol prices continuing to spiral but there are still ways to refresh the car experience by using a car-sharing scheme.

BlaBlaCar, a car-sharing website that connects drivers with empty seats and paying passengers, says you could save 79% of travel costs compared with buying off peak singles by using a car share to get to work, while a driver taking a contribution from one passenger could offset just under half their fuel costs.

For more information visit blablacar.com, or check out any schemes in your local area.

4. Work from home

If your morning commute was downstairs to the kitchen, make coffee, then back upstairs to your study, you'd certainly save a lot of money, so look into ways you could work from home, if only for a few days a week. You might have to invest in some equipment for your home office but it will be worth the money you save on the commute.

Alternatively, ask your boss if you could change your working hours to avoid peak hours so you can buy cheaper off peak tickets. Generally speaking, avoiding travel between 6.30am and 9am and 3.30pm and 6.30pm could save you money - and you'll miss out on the classic commute crush.

More about