So, as it stands, in January rail fares will go up by 2.8 per cent - last month’s Retail Price Index (RPI) figure announced today. Commuters will be dismayed to be paying yet more again next year, not least as they endure weekly delays and cancellations and regular overcrowding on much of the network, but also because we were told RPI fare rises would be a thing of the past.
This time last year, the then transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said RPI pegged rises were difficult to justify and future rises would be pegged to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead. One year on, and there is still no end in sight to RPI fare rises.
We know that high rail fares aren’t providing value for money: peak-time rail is bursting at the seams with 17 per cent of commuters not getting a seat; the number of complaints about things like timetabling, crowding and facilities on board trains is rising; and less than half of passengers are satisfied that their ticket gives them value for money.
To reduce overcrowding and make sure passengers get value for their ticket we must continue to invest in better stations, track and rolling stock, and to avoid congestion, train users also need innovation like advance notice of the busiest trains and pay-as-you-go ticketing which increases flexibility about when they travel.
But the Government must also treat passengers fairly by making the promised switch to CPI pegged fare rises this January. Passengers deserve this at the very least.
The Government's long awaited Rail Review will report back with its recommendations in November. Its aim is to transform the way we manage and operate our railways and that must include a comprehensive package of rail fare reforms to start to restore passengers’ faith.
You can read our full media statement on today’s fare rise here.