Rail fares in UK will rise by 3.5% from January next year, following the release of July’s inflation figures.
Under the formula, average fares in England are due to go up by July’s RPI measure of inflation, plus 1%.
Labour accused the government of ‘ripping off’ passengers, but the government defended the rise.
Britain’s railways are renowned for being the most expensive in Europe, possibly the world. According to estimates, the rise in inflation rates could see workers in Britain’s biggest commuter towns being forced to pay £5,000 a year in order to get to work.
Regulated fares have increased by more than the rate of inflation in most years since 2004.
The government was meant to keep costs down on tickets where people don’t have much of an alternative but to go by train. Like commuter season tickets for example.
But for more than a decade ministers have actually used the regulation system to increase prices by more than inflation. The reason? They want passengers to pay a bigger share of the bill to run our trains, so that taxpayers pay less.
Passenger Focus, which represents rail users, wants the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to consider blocking the full rise.
“We hope the government will step in again as it did last year, to ensure that train fares in England do not rise above the rate of inflation,” said David Sidebottom, the director of Passenger Focus.
Michael Roberts, director general of the industry body, the Rail Delivery Group, said that although rail fares had increased above inflation for a decade, the number of passengers had seen “phenomenal growth”.
“Compared with fifteen years ago, we’re now carrying twice as many passengers as we did then,” he said. But he added that rail services were partly a “victim of that success” because there was now overcrowding on some major services.