2 January 2014: As millions of us return from our Christmas breaks today many of you would have bought or renewed your rail season tickets and been hit with yet another huge annual fare increase. With fares increasing by an average of 2.8 per cent and by as much as 5.1 per cent on some routes, commuters and other rail users up and down the country will be wondering exactly how they can continue to afford to pay for their tickets as fares continue to rise three times faster than wages.
Today we have published a report called Fares and Rail Financing, carried out by independent consultancy Credo, which has found that:
• A current season ticket from Reading into London now costs more than a fifth (22 per cent) of the average London salary. Since 2008, the cost of a season ticket from Reading to London has risen 25 per cent, whilst average take home pay has risen just 9 per cent.
• By 2018, fares revenue will cover 103 per cent of the operating costs of the railways, up from 80 per cent in 2009, meaning that the Government will be effectively profiting from rail users by the end of the next Parliament.
This shows that the balance between fare payer and taxpayer is set to become hugely imbalanced and the wider economic, social and environmental benefits of a good railway system set to be seemingly ignored by any future Government if the current funding system continues.
In early December the Government took a positive step and changed the rail fares formula from annual above inflation increases of RPI+1 to rise in line with inflation at RPI+0%. Whilst this is a step in the right direction our report calls on the Government to go further and move from the RPI formula to the much more widely used CPI formula.
RPI over-estimates real inflation so consistently that the Office of National Statistics has dropped it as an official measure. Government has already switched to CPI for most things. Doing the same for train fares would have little impact on railway revenues, but it would save passengers money and bring fares into line with things like public sector pensions.
We have some of the most expensive rail fares in Europe and as many commuters and rail users renew their season tickets for the year ahead it will be another year of anger and misery as wages stagnate and fares rise so steeply.
People up and down the country will be wondering how they are going to pay for the their tickets and we call on the Government to read our report and adopt our recommendations to give commuters and rail users some much needed financial respite.
We are making progress with our Fair Fares Now campaign and, following the recent announcement to end above inflation fare increases the Government are starting to listen, but we still have some of the most expensive rail fares in the world and as the 2015 General Election draws nearer we urgently need your help to give us a much louder voice and make fares a key election issue.
• Join and share our Fair Fares Now Facebook Page
• Please ask your friends and family to sign up to our Fair Fares Now Campaign
With your help we can continue to send a clear message to the Chancellor and Government that we want Fair Fares Now!