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Commuters rage at predicted rise in rail fares

Northern train at a platform

Commuters and frequent travellers have taken to social media to speak of their rage at the news that rail fares are expected to rise by 3.5 per cent next year.

An official statement from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is due on Wednesday and will outline the increase in average fares for 2019, with many experts believing the group will follow its usual practice of basing the rise on the Retail Prices Index, which is higher than the Consumer Prices Index.

If that is the case, average fares could go up by 3.5 per cent.

The increase for this year was 3.6 per cent – the biggest fares hike for five years.

Passengers have expressed their outrage on Twitter, with many saying an increase would be unfair considering ongoing issues on Northern and Govia Thameslink services following the introduction of a new timetable in May that saw thousands of trains cancelled and delayed.

Northern passengers have faced more trouble in recent weeks, with 80 services cancelled on Sunday (12 August) and the operator blaming engineering work for crew scheduling ‘difficulties’.

Passengers have said any fare increase ‘could not be justified’ in the wake of the problems.

However, the Department for Transport said it would be unfair “to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do”, saying the network is already subsidised by £4 billion of taxpayer money.

The Labour party has called for a freeze on fares on the routes most affected by the timetable chaos, including those operated by Govia Thameslink, Arriva Rail North and First Transpennine Express.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Better Transport says a freeze should apply across the board, with a spokesperson saying: “Given the mess surrounding the new timetable, the lack of improvements and the failure to deliver compensation, the government cannot go on telling passengers that fare increases are justified.”

The news comes as consumer group Which? found rail was the UK’s second least-trusted consumer industry, with only 23 per cent of survey respondents trusting train companies.

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