Rail passengers face biggest fare rise in five years

File image of a National Express East Anglia 360 Desiro locomotive at Ingatestone in Essex

Rail Fares To Increase By Average Of 3.4% From January 2

Ticket prices across Britain will go up by an average of 3.4 per cent and 3.2 per cent on ScotRail, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) announced today.

However, off-peak tickets on Scotland's main train firm will increase by 2.6 per cent.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said the rise was a "chill wind".

However, news of the increase was met with severe criticism from unions and consumer groups, particularly given the persistently poor service faced by some customers, with 12% of trains arriving late at their destinations in the past 12 months.

However, RDG insisted over 97% of the money from fares was being channelled towards improving and running the rail network, indicating that it planned to roll out better services with improved services and stations and more trains over the next 18 months.

'Private rail companies continue to cash in while passengers and commuters have to cough up.

The Government uses the previous July's Retail Prices Index measure of inflation to determine increases in regulated fares, which was 3.6 per cent.

Fewer than half (47 per cent) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to Transport Focus.

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'Tis the season for the rail companies to ruin the Christmases of millions of people, by revealing next year's ticket prices.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group which brings together train companies and Network Rail, said: "Government controls increases to nearly 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".

She added: "We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century to improve services for passengers - providing faster and better trains with more seats".

Successive governments have looked to cut taxpayers' funding of railways and increase the contribution from passengers.

It warns passengers are already struggling, with the average growth in wages failing to keep up with the pace of hikes.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: 'This latest increase in rail fares is staggering. "It seems every couple of weeks part of Liverpool Street Station is closed and we have a backlog of freight trains that should have been moved elsewhere - and they are expecting us to pay 3.4% more".

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