Rail fares will rise by 2.3% on average across Great Britain next year, the rail industry has confirmed.
The move applies to all national fares in England, Scotland, and Wales. This covers both regulated tickets – such as season tickets and off-peak rail fares - and unregulated tickets – such as peak travel fares and advance tickets.
Regulated fares, which are set by the devolved governments, have already been confirmed to rise by 1.9% on average in England and Wales from January 2017.
Scotland is yet to confirm its regulated prices for 2017. However, the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, says that as ScotRail is only a small share of the overall market, the average increase of 2.3% across Britain is unlikely to be substantially affected by any price announcement made.
Northern Ireland has yet to announce prices for 2017. It last increased fares in February 2015.
Biggest price hike in three years
The 2.3% price increase is the largest average price hike for train passengers since January 2014, when prices rose by 2.8% on average. In comparison, prices rose by 1.1% on average in 2016.
Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport says: “Between 1995 and 2016 passengers have seen average fares increase by 23.5% and much more needs to be done by train operators and the Government to give them a truly affordable railway.”
However, Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, says: “Around 97p in every pound passengers pay goes back into running and improving services.”
He adds: “We understand how passengers feel when fares go up, and we know that in some places they haven’t always got the service they pay for.”
How to dodge the increase on season tickets
If you’re looking to dodge the price increase, most employers offer interest-free 12-month loans to buy season tickets. If you buy your new season ticket just before the new prices kick in on 2 January 2017, you’ll get 12 months at current prices.
However, if you buy tickets now for travel in England and Wales from 2 January 2017 onwards, the new price will be factored in.
Passengers in Scotland will see fare increases on the system from next Monday. However, the Scottish government says that should any decision be made to reduce fares, measures are in place to refund the difference for certain passengers buying a ticket in advance.