13 August 2013: Today the Government has announced that regulated train fares will increase by a huge 4.1% in the next round of fares increases from January 2014. The current formula used by the Government where they take the Retail Price Index inflation figure of 3.1% and then add 1% means that fares will again increase way above inflation and much higher than people's wages, piling more and more pressure on rail users across the country.
If you feel like you are having déjà vu then you probably are! Increases in train fares have been happening with depressing regularity and January’s increase will be the eleventh year of unabated above inflation fares increases.
At the same time wages have remained largely stagnant and with a decade of increases, train fares are now one of the biggest household outgoings, ahead of food, utilities and housing, all of which have also been increasing in price. We have produced some research that shows how rail fares are increasing by almost twice the rate of incomes, outstripping increases in wages by nearly 14 per cent since 2007.
Financial pressure on rail users is becoming unbearable and for many this will be the last straw. We are hearing of more and more stories and experiences of rail users in ‘Rail Poverty’ who have been forced to make life changing decisions and quit their jobs as it is just unviable to continue to pay thousands for an annual season ticket.
A quick calculation has found that the 4.1% increase in January will mean huge increases for commuters on some of the busiest routes in the country.
• Canterbury to central London - Season ticket price £5,009 (distance 55 miles - predicted price increase of £197)
• Reading to central London - Season ticket price £4,122 (distance 35 miles - predicted price increase £162)
It is little wonder that a recent survey by Passenger Focus found that less than a third of commuters felt that they were getting value for money from their tickets and their train service.
The Government are investing in our railways but this is largely for big infrastructure projects and rail users do not see this investment trickling down to make their tickets cheaper.
The Government’s Fares and Ticketing review, which has taken almost two years to publish has apparently been delayed further and will now not be seen until the Autumn. Today, however, the Government must listen to the anger and frustration of the thousands of rail users across the country, who have to find significant sums of money to renew their season tickets.
We renew our call for the Government to name a date to end these ridiculous above inflation rail fare increases and start planning for fare reductions.
If you have a story you would like to share about the cost of rail travel or what these increases mean for you, then please tell us why affordable train services are vital here.