Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Calls for a commuter fares freeze as next year's increases announced

15 August 2017

Campaigners are calling for a rail fares freeze on the day that next year's fares rise is announced.

The rise, which is pegged to inflation, is 3.6 per cent making it the highest increase for five years and far outstripping wages. Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to hold regulated rail fares at their current level and then rethink the way it calculates fares in future to prevent rail fares increasing faster than people's incomes and to help millions of part-time workers, who are already disadvantaged by the lack of flexible rail tickets.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This rise will be the highest since 2013 and will leave many commuters struggling to meet the cost of their commute next year. That's why we want the Government to bring in a fares freeze for January; it's frozen fuel duty for the last seven years and we think rail fares should be given the same treatment."

Regulated rail fares, things like season tickets and standard returns, make up almost half of all fares and increases are set by government. Since 2014, fare increases have been capped at the previous July’s Retail Price Index (RPI). However RPI is an unreliable measure of inflation and has been largely replaced by the more widely recognised and accepted Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Stephen Joseph continued: "It's unacceptable that the Government continues to use RPI to calculate rail fare rises. Passengers would be forgiven for thinking they are being taken for a ride when RPI has been dropped as an official measure for most other things. We want the Government to commit to changing the way it calculates future fare increases and start using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead so that rises more accurately reflect real inflation and ensure rail travel remains affordable for all."


Season ticket costs for various commuter routes from January 2018 are below.

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

Notes to Editors


  1. Projected fare rise for January 2018 (using RPI at 3.6 per cent) can be found below.
  2. RPI for July 2017 is 3.6 per cent. The last time rail fares rose higher was in 2013 when they went up by 4.2 per cent.
  3. Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to change they way it calculates rail fare increases by replacing RPI with the more widely recognised Consumer Price Index (CPI). RPI overestimates real inflation so consistently that the Office of National Statistics stopped using it as an official measure in 2013 and the government has already switched to CPI for most other things. Just last month, the Office of National Statistics warned that the RPI rate has 'serious shortcomings' and should not be used (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4747226/Statistics-watchdog-condemns-flawed-inflation-measure.html).
  4. The Government is now profiting from passengers according to the latest Department for Transport Annual Report, which shows the Government is getting a net £1.289 million from rail in resource funding, i.e. fares. Whilst of course it gives Network Rail £12 billion in capital investment, these are separate pots and any profit from fares is not offset against the capital investment, it simply goes back to the treasury. Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dft-annual-report-and-accounts-2016-to-2017 (page 11).
  5. There are 8.5 million part-time workers in the UK, a large majority of them women, yet there is no season ticket available to them which would give them a similar discount to that which full-time commuters receive. At the moment, part-time workers who commute by train must either buy a season ticket and lose money on the days they don't use it, or buy individual peak-time tickets, meaning part-time workers are losing hundreds of pounds a year.
  6. 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).