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Government’s New Year’s resolution must be to reduce rail fares

2 January 2013
Government’s policy of above inflation train fare increases means many season tickets prices have risen by more than 50% in the 10 years since 2003.

New research by Campaign for Better Transport (1) shows that in the last decade London commuters have seen:
•    Average season ticket costs increase by £1300
•    Fares grow 20% faster than wages
•    Average costs in real terms increasing by £360

Publication of the research coincides with the introduction of new fares on 2 January 2013.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport said

“The impact of successive Government’s policies on rail fares is appalling. It’s truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford. The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares.”
Campaign for Better Transport has launched a petition calling on Government to name a date to end the above inflation formula and commit to reducing fares relative to inflation (2).

In the last 10 years, rail fares have gone up significantly in all parts of England. There are significant differences between routes over that period:

•    Annual fares from Ashford International to London have risen by over £2000
•    Fares from Sevenoaks to London have increased by nearly 90%, from £1660 to £3112
•    Woking to London has seen fares increase by 41% and making them £848 more expensive. Woking to London Waterloo is also recognised as one of the most congested on the Network (3)
•    In contrast, fares from Stevenage to London have risen by £772 - an increase of 30% - below the increase generated by inflation alone

There have been steep increases in rail fares across the country in the last 10 years. For example:

•    From January 2013, commuters traveling between Worcester and Birmingham Moor Street will pay £1240 for a season ticket compared with £816 in 2003. This is an increase of £424 – 52%
•    An off-peak day return between Bristol and St Austell in Cornwall has risen in price from £53.10 to £75.60 – an increase of 40%


1. Campaign for Better Transport’s research is based on 40 commuter routes to London.

Actual prices for 2013 are those listed on the National Rail Enquiries website for standard class journeys to 'London Terminals' and described as 'Travel is allowed by any route option shown by the Journey Planner where the journey can be made using only one ticket'. Luton and St Albans fares are to 'London Thameslink' as no 'London Terminals' fare is listed. Other season ticket prices may be available for some routes. Tickets are for use on all operators with the exception of High Speed services, which are excluded

Comparisons with average wages (January 2003 to October 2012) were calculated using figures from the ONS.

2. Campaign for Better Transport’s petition concerning rail fare rises is available via the Campaign for Better Transport website or on the 38 Degrees website

3. The 7:32am service from Woking to London Waterloo was last week identified by DfT as the second most congested service on the network in 2012

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).