Commuters face up to 11% rail price hikes

15 August 2012

The average commuter faces 6.2% higher rail fares next January, and some will even have to pay over 11% more.

The government calculates ticket prices by adding 3% to the retail prices index measure of inflation, which unexpectedly hit 3.2% in July.

However, the government is allowing rail companies to add up to another 5% as long as they balance out their price rises across the board. This means some rail users could end up paying fares up to 11.2% higher.

The highest increases for season tickets are expected from areas in Berkshire, Sussex and Norfolk, where they could reach over £5,000.

"At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, ministers have decided not only that fares should rise by 3% above inflation, but also told the train companies that they can add up to another 5% on top," says Maria Eagle, Labour's shadow transport secretary.

She adds that this will be the third year in a row many fares will rise by as much as 11%.

How to avoid fare increases

Is there any way you can avoid this extortionate hike? Here are a couple of tips.

1. Buy your season ticket before the end of the year to avoid the price hikes. Even if your current ticket expires a few weeks into the New Year, it may still work out cheaper.

2. Ask your employer if you can work flexible hours to avoid travelling at peak times or even work from home a couple of days a week.

3. Check your route to see if you can walk or cycle either all or part of the way to cut some of the cost. Some employers run cycle-to-work schemes and can provide you with bikes and equipment. For more information, got to

4. Catch the bus. There are some bus routes that follow commuter routes into London. Yes, the bus might take a little bit longer, but they still offer a lot of comfort.

Many of them have wifi onboard and you will always get a seat. Oxford Tube offers annual passes from Oxford to stops in London for £1,130, compared to the equivalent annual rail card that costs £4,348.

5. Look into the cost of travelling by car, as it might now be the cheapest option, particularly if you consider a car-pooling scheme where you share the journey with other 'commuters'. You can find a car-pooling scheme in your area at

6. Could you consider looking for a job closer to home? Similar positions might not pay as well outside the big but saving on the rail fare could make up for a pay cut and it would also save you having to waste hours of your life commuting.

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