Today we learned that rail fares will rise 3.6 per cent in January making it the biggest rise for five years. To put it into context, that means an average rise for commuters coming into London of £146; for commuters coming into Bristol an extra £72; and for commuters working in Birmingham an additional £65 next year. We think that’s an awful lot given wages have not risen nearly as fast and public sector workers are subject to a one per cent pay cap.
January’s rail fare rises have been pegged to the previous July’s RPI figure since 2014, but the figure announced today is higher than anticipated and a real blow for hard working commuters who were told there would be an end to rocketing rail fares.
Today’s announcement will be especially difficult for passengers to swallow given that the latest Department for Transport Annual Report shows the Government is getting a net £1.289 million from rail in resource funding, i.e. fares. Of course it also gives Network Rail £12 billion in capital investment, but these are separate pots and any profit from fares is not offset against the capital investment, it simply goes back to the treasury.
To close the gap between wages and fare rises we're calling for a fares freeze in January and for the Government to change the way it calculates future increases. RPI is an outdated way to calculate inflation, so much so that the Office of National Statistics has stopped using it as an official measure. In fact just last month it warned that the RPI rate has 'serious shortcomings' and should not be used. We want to government to commit to using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of RPI, the same figure it uses when calculating pensions and benefits and a much more reliable way to calculate inflation.
There’s still time to change the Government’s mind before the fare rises come into effect in January. It’s not unheard of for the Chancellor to use the Autumn Budget to change the fare rises. We think with enough pressure there’s a good chance the Government will listen to passengers. Ask you MP to support our call for a fares freeze in January using our online form and tweet using #faresfreeze. We’ve helped stop outrageous fare rises before and with your help we can do it again!