Rail fares rise by largest amount in five years

2 January 2018

Commuters in England, Scotland, and Wales have today been hit by the largest average fare hike in five years.

Ticket prices have today risen by 3.4% on average. This is the biggest increase since January 2013, when they increased by 3.9%. Last year, fares rose by a smaller 2.3%

The 3.4% average hike covers all fare types, with unregulated fares – which account for around 60% of fares – set by the train companies and regulated fares set by the devolved governments using the previous July's Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.

Regulated fares have today risen by 3.6% in England and Wales, and by 2.6% in Scotland.  

In Northern Ireland, fares are set by rail operator Translink. It says: “No decision has been taken on a fares revision for 2018 at this time.”

‘Government should freeze rail fares’

Andrew Allen, policy analyst at charity Campaign for Better Transport, comments: “Today’s rise is the highest in five years at 3.6% [for regulated fares]. It means the average season ticket into London is up £146 - twice as much as last year and well ahead of the standard measure of inflation and sluggish wage growth. 

“So, what should the Government do? The immediate response should be a fare freeze on regulated train tickets. Such a move is overdue and the Chancellor should at the earliest opportunity announce an intention to keep fares at their current level into 2019 and beyond. This would help struggling commuters and send a clear signal that the Government wants to stem the flow of peak time passengers away from the railways. A fares freeze would also bring rail into line with road taxation, where fuel tax has been frozen for seven years - saving the average driver £160 a year.” 

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which brings together train companies and Network Rail, adds: “Government controls increases to almost half of fares, including season tickets, with the rest heavily influenced by the payments train companies make to government.

“Alongside investment from the public and private sectors, money from fares is underpinning the railway’s long-term plan to change and improve. Working together, our plan will secure £85 billion of additional economic benefits while enabling further investment and improved journeys for customers, better connections to boost local communities and a bright future for our employees."

The RDG says 97p in every pound goes back into running and improving the railway.

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