Season ticket rail cost rises by up to 2.5%
The cost of regulated train fares and season tickets will rise by up to 2.5% on 2 January, it has been announced.
In a blow to already-stretched commuters, the rise will see some train users paying out more than £5,000 a year to get back and forth to work for the first time.
The rise for regulated fares – which includes season tickets, anytime single tickets around major cities and off-peak inner-city returns – in England and Wales – was capped at 2.5% by Chancellor George Osborne using July's RPI measure of inflation.
The Rail Delivery Group, the industry body that announced the new pricing structure, defended the move and said the average increase of all fares, including unregulated fares that are set by the train companies, was 2.2%, the lowest rise for five years, with the money going towards help maintain and improve the rail network.
The rise means a season ticket from Folkestone Central to central London for example, will jump from £4,984 to £5,108, while a season ticket from the Sussex town of Hassocks into central London, will now cost commuters £3,588 up from £3,504 – a jump of 2.4%.
Meanwhile, a season ticket from Wigan into central Manchester currently costs £1,092 but from 2 January this will rise to £1,116, a jump of 2.1%.
Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Money from fares goes towards running and maintaining the railway. This benefits not just passengers and businesses but communities across the country, by improving journeys, creating employment and helping to boost the economy.
"Over the next five years, Network Rail is spending on average £27 million a day on a better railway, alongside commitments made by train companies to improve services. That will mean more seats, better stations and improved journeys.
"The industry is continuing to work together to get more for every pound we invest to enable government to make fares decisions which work best for passengers."
However, Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "It is time to stop this annual persecution of passengers with year on year hikes in fares. We have seen fares jump by as much as 245% on key routes since privatisation 20 years ago.
"It is now cheaper for a family of four to fly to Iceland to see Father Christmas, £224, than it is for one person to buy an anytime walk on return rail fare from London to Manchester, £321."
Consumers will be able to buy tickets for travel from 2 January from today.
Replaced as the official measure of inflation by the consumer prices index (CPI) in December 2003. Both the Retail Price Index and CPI are attempts to estimate inflation in the UK, but they come up with different values because there are slight differences in what goods and services they cover, and how they are calculated. Unlike the CPI, the RPI includes a measure of housing costs, such as mortgage interest payments, council tax, house depreciation and buildings insurance, so changes in the interest rates affect the RPI. If interest rates are cut, it will reduce mortgage interest payments, so the RPI will fall but not the CPI. The RPI is sometimes referred to as the “headline” rate of inflation and the CPI as the “underlying” rate.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).