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Government accused of profiting from passengers as commuter fares rise again

4 January 2016

The Government has been accused of profiting from commuters as the annual rail fare hike hit people returning to work today.

Research, commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport, shows by 2020 Government income from the railways could increase threefold from £1.1 billion today to £3.5 billion, enough to reduce public spending on the railways by a quarter (25 per cent) and introduce much needed fares and ticketing improvements.

Martin Abrams said: “Passengers are paying a premium price for a less than premium service, so any profit needs to be reinvested back into the railways and used to keep fares affordable and introduce long-overdue ticketing improvements. We want to see a ticketing system that reflects modern working patterns and makes rail travel a viable choice, not just for the UK’s millions of part-time workers, but also for the thousands more who are currently prevented from working due to the cost of the commute.”

Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to use this premium windfall to introduce the fares and ticketing improvements passengers need:

  • Flexible season tickets for part-time workers
  • Free travel for under 11s across England and Wales
  • Regulated fares set using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI), in future.


For further information please contact Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. Regulated fares, including season tickets, have gone up by RPI (1.1 per cent) this year, meaning the average season ticket now costs 25 per cent more than 2010.
  2. Train operating companies pay a premium to the Government to run profitable franchises, with the most profitable incurring the highest premium, whilst the less profitable franchises receive a subsidy from the Government. Last year, the Government received £1.1 billion in franchise premium payments from the train operating companies, or 12p in every pound of train operating companies’ revenue. Based on the figures compiled by Credo for Campaign for Better Transport, these premiums could be as much as £3.5 billion, or 30p in every pound, by 2020.
  3. Campaign for Better Transport’s part-time ticketing petition is available here: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/part-time-tickets-petition
  4. Working on the basis that a 4 day per week annual season ticket would cost 4/5 that of the current annual season ticket, with a 3 day a week one costing 3/5 and a 2 day a week one costing 2/5, below are examples of the average savings on routes into the selected cities.


  4 day a week saving on the 2015 annual season ticket 3 day a week saving on the 2015 annual season ticket 2 day a week saving on the 2015 annual season ticket
Trains into London £799.86 £1599.72 £2399.58
Trains into Birmingham £318.16 £636.32 £954.48
Trains into Manchester £232.72 £465.44 £698.16
Trains into Bristol £391.68 £783.36 £1175.04
Trains into Leeds £270.96 £541.92 £812.88
Trains into Liverpool £226.72 £543.44 £680.16


The full fares data from which these averages have been calculated is available here:

London fares data

Birmingham fares data

Manchester fares data

Bristol fares data

Leeds fares data

Liverpool fares data

  1. The UK has the fifth highest rate of part-time workers in Europe according to the annual EU Labour Force survey 2014. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/tesem100
  2. The Government has committed to keeping fare rises in line with RPI, however it is now widely accepted that RPI over-estimates real inflation. The Office of National Statistics has dropped RPI as an official measure and the Government has switched to CPI for most other things, including benefits. 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.
  3. Future Rail Funding: Passenger Opportunities, was produced by Credo for Campaign for Better Transport. The full report can be found here.
  4. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).