Inflation-busting price hikes on the way

27 November 2008

Forget the pre-Budget report and the damp squib that a 2.5% cut in VAT will make to the economy, because, come January, many of us will be hit with inflation-busting price hikes that will cause even more misery to our pockets.Anyone who uses the train across the UK will soon be feeling the pinch as rail operators have announced that the cost of tickets will increase by more than the official rate of inflation on 2 January.Every year train companies are free to increase fares by the retail price index measure of inflation based on the July figure, which was 5.3% - plus 1%, but the amount you will pay will be based on the operator you use and the ticket you buy. Season tickets are due to increase by an average of 6%, while most leisure and advance fares will rise by 7% on average.The highest annual increase announced for leisure and advance fares will be passengers on CrossCountry services, which will rise in January by an average of 11%. And commuters with Southeastern will have to fork out an extra 8% 'to pay for new high speed trains'.Those who live or work in London also face a double whammy - as travelcards will also face an increase. It currently costs £93 a month for a Zone 1 and 2 travelcard, and this also looks set to top £100 come January.Now I used to commute to Moneywise Towers from Colchester with National Express early this year, at a cost of £450 a month - those who still do will have to find an extra £30 from somewhere. Although I now live in London I still like to go and see family and friends, and so have no other option but to use the underground to get to work and head back on the train the odd weekend. On that basis it's going to cost roughly an extra £20 a month.I wouldn't mind if the service was reliable and good value for money, but that's simply not the case. Delays, overrunning engineering works, bus replacements at weekends, broken down trains – the list goes on. And to add insult to injury the rises come as passengers get ready to brace themelves for disruption over the Christmas and New Year break as repairs take place.So as I head home on Christmas Eve to enjoy the festivities, I won't be looking forward to a more expensive journey back.

 Liam Tarry is the Staff Writer at Moneywise