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Rising fares and broken promise for rail commuters

2 January 2020

Campaign for Better Transport is pressing for a full reform of the rail fares system as commuters returning to work today were hit by a 2.8 per cent rise. 

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: 

“Rail passengers are tired of rising fares and broken promises. It’s time for a complete overhaul of the fares system and a fairer way to calculate future level. Only total reform will start to restore passengers’ faith in the rail network, and ensure the railways are more affordable and better value for passengers.”

The Government sets the January fare increase using July’s Retail Price Index (RPI) level - a discredited and obsolete statistic which should no longer be used. The Government indicated in August 2018 that it would replace RPI for fare rises, but progress has yet to be made leaving passengers paying higher fares this year. If the more appropriate Consumer Price Index (CPI) had been used to set fare increases, regulated fares - including season tickets and standard returns - would have risen by 2.1 per cent today. 

The Government's review of the railways is due to be published and should recommend a full reform of the fares system. A Campaign for Better Transport report, The future of rail, released last week, made the case for future reforms to include speedier implementation of account-based tickets, part-time season tickets, pay as you go travel, multimodal and zonal fares, as well as ending the RPI-linked annual increase.


For further information please contact the press office on 020 3746 2235 or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

See examples of season tickets costs for people travelling into London stations 

See examples of season ticket costs for people travelling into regional stations 

Notes to Editors

  1. The Government uses the previous July’s Retail Price Index (RPI) figure to set the following year’s regulated fare rises. RPI was 2.8 per cent in July 2019, whereas the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 2.1 per cent for the same month. Regulated fares account for around 45 per cent of ticket sales; the rest, including things like advance and peak long-distance tickets, can be increased at train companies' discretion. Looking at fares as a whole, the average rise will be 2.7 per cent this year. 
  2. Campaign for Better Transport has been calling for the Government to replace RPI for the annual fare increase since 2013.
  3. This table shows how much passengers would have paid if CPI had been used to set rail fare increases since 2014 when RPI was dropped as an official measure of inflation.
  4. Read The Future of Rail here
  5. Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. We campaign to bring sustainable transport to all and ensure solutions are delivered that improve the wellbeing of communities, quality of life and the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).