Chris Grayling proposes lower rail fares, as 3.2% hike on cards

Danielle Levy
15 August 2018

Rail fares are set to rise by 3.2% in January – which is a move that transport secretary Chris Grayling says could be avoided if a lower measure of inflation is used.

July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) totalled 3.2% and will be used to determine the annual increase in train fares next January.

While this came in lower than economists’ estimates of 3.5% and last year’s rise of 3.6%, the hike could raise the costs of some season tickets by hundreds of pounds.

Mr Grayling has asked unions and the Rail Delivery Group, an industry body representing train operators and Network Rail, to move away from pegging rail fares and wages to the Retail Price Index (RPI).

In his opinion, both should be based on the lower Consumer Price Index (CPI), which does not include mortgage costs. For example, July’s CPI figure came in at 2.5%.

According to the Guardian, Mr Grayling said the use of RPI was “difficult to justify” and noted that a move to CPI would help to lower the industry’s costs.

However, the suggested move to CPI has been greeted with resistance from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

RMT general secretary comments: “If Chris Grayling seriously thinks that front-line rail workers are going to pay the price for his gross incompetence and the greed of the private train companies he’s got another thing coming.”

He says the RMT will fight any attempt to impose a pay cap on its members, which he says would only protect private train company profits.

”This is a basket case government and a lame duck transport secretary continuing i‎ts all-out war on staff and passengers alike,” he adds.

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