Rail fares rise above inflation

Key questions answered on rail fares rise

Rail fares rise above inflation

Rail passengers will be hit by an above inflation fares rise for the first time in eight years, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

Ticket prices will increase by an average of 2.6% from March 1 next year, which is July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation plus 1%. Click here to find out more on the rail fares increases.

Here are some of the key questions around the controversial issue:

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How big is the fare rise?

Fares will go up by an average of 2.6% from March 1 next year.

What normally determines the figure?

In the past seven years, rises in regulated fares have been linked to July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which this year was 1.6%. This year, the Government is using RPI +1%.

Why? Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris says the Government wants to make sure taxpayers are “not overburdened”, as they are already covering franchises’ losses to keep services running despite the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis.

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What about unregulated fares?

Whereas rises in regulated fares such as season tickets are set by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, operators are free to determine unregulated fares including Advance tickets.

But unregulated fare rises are expected to match regulated fares due to the Government taking on operators’ financial liabilities.

What else is different to normal?

Fares usually become more expensive on the first working day of every year.

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The upheaval caused by the virus crisis means the 2021 rise is being delayed until March 1.

How much more expensive has train travel become in recent years?

Office of Rail and Road figures show that between January 2004 and January 2020, average fares increased in real terms by 15%.

Where does the money go?

The Rail Delivery Group says 98p of every £1 spent on train fares goes towards running and maintaining services.

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Is there any way of avoiding the fare rise?

Savvy commuters can renew their season tickets in the days before the annual increase.

Passengers can save money by getting a railcard, travelling off-peak and booking in advance, although these options are not available for many journeys, particularly those made by commuters.

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Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...