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Rail fares are now rising four times as fast as the average wage

19 August 2014
Today the Government will announce yet another rise in rail fares (2), meaning that at the current rate, fares will have risen by 24.7 percent this Parliament. Average wages as of August have only risen 6.9 percent over the same period of time, and for some commuters a season ticket is now a fifth of their annual earned income.

Unsustainable commuting costs are not only affecting those working in London, where the journey into work can cost over £7,000 a year, but many UK cities. Passengers who will feel the pinch when this week’s rise comes into effect in January 2015 include those in:

  • Warrington, where a season ticket to Manchester will be £1695
  • Tamworth, where a season ticket to Birmingham will be £1491
  • Bridlington, where a season ticket to Hull will be £2097

Passengers using city commuter services on the Northern Rail franchise will also be hit by an extension of peak-time fares in September. (3)

Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner for Campaign for Better Transport, said: “With people’s wages stagnating and in some cases falling, the expense of taking the train to work has become a huge part of living costs. If the Government doesn’t put an end to above-inflation fare increases quickly, ordinary commuters will be priced off the train and could be forced into agonizing decisions such as moving house or quitting their jobs.” (4)

Fares are failing to support the geography of most people’s lives nowadays, ie living in non-urban, less expensive areas and working in urban centres which offer the best options for employment and wages. Campaigners are calling for fares to be made cheaper, fairer and simpler in the Fair Fares Now campaign. (5)


For further information and interviews with national and local campaigners, please contact Chloë Darlington at Campaign for Better Transport, on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or chloe.darlington@bettertransport.org.uk


Notes to Editors

  1. 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).
  2. Fares are expected to rise by RPI +1 percent, or 3.6 percent.
  3. In the north of England, back door fare increases will take effect on 8 September: Northern Rail announced new evening peak fares on certain services: http://bettertransport.org.uk/northern-rail-ticket-increases-counterproductive-and-unfair.
  4. Fare changes are determined by a discredited measurement. The Retail Price Index (RPI) is deemed to over-estimate inflation and the Office of National Statistics no longer gives it National Statistic status. Campaign for Better Transport research has shown that Government's practice of linking regulated fares to RPI rather than the more accurate CPI measure has cost commuters hundreds of pounds over the last decade. Campaign for Better Transport is campaigning for fares, in line with most other costs of living, to be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead. Research shows that this would bring fares in line with wages by 2018 and have minimal effect on rail revenue.3  
  5. The Fair Fares Now Charter calls for cheaper, fairer and simpler fares at http://bettertransport.org.uk/sites/default/files/fair-fares-charter-april-2014.pdf.

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