Rail fares to rise by 4.1% from January 2014

Mind the gap sign

Trade unions and consumer groups have reacted with outrage to the news that rail fares will increase by 4.1%.

The above-inflation rise in regulated rail fares (which include season tickets) introduced is to be introduced January 2014.

The increase means rail fares will have increased by close to 40% between January 2008 and January 2014 - the sixth time in seven years that fare rises have outstripped wages. Over the same period, average earnings have increased by just 15%, with rail fares rising nearly three times faster than wages.

In Scotland, price rises are capped at inflation rate, while there has been no announcement on price rises in Northern Ireland or Wales.

Train operating companies are allowed by the government to increase regulated fares by inflation (as measured by the retail prices index in July) plus 1%. The Office for National Statistics announced this morning that the RPI figure for July was 3.1%.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Getting to work is now the biggest single monthly outgoing for many commuters – more than food, more than housing. One of the surest ways of stamping on any green shoots of recovery is to price people off the trains and out of the jobs market. For the sake of the economy we should end above inflation fares increases now and start planning for fare reductions."

Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) added: "Every year hard-pressed rail commuters have to hand over an ever greater share of their earnings just to get to and from work. Wage-busting fare rises are not even going on much needed service improvements either. Instead, passenger and public subsidies are lining the pockets of the shareholders of private rail companies.

"You only have to look at the nationalised East Coast mainline to see that public ownership of the railways not only works, it provides a better deal for passengers and taxpayers alike."

ASLEF, the train drivers' union also condemned the price rise. Mick Whelan, General Secretary said: "Soaring fares for passengers – just one of the increased costs of privatisation we are all suffering –is driving more and more people into transport poverty."

The TUC, in partnership with other unions, is organising a campaign called Action for Rail campaign, which will take part in around 50 demonstrations at train stations across the country – including London King's Cross, Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

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