The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has announced that train fare increases will be kept below the inflation rate, but passengers will still pay an average 3.1 per cent more from 2 January.
The announcement comes after RDG said in August that fares could go up by 3.2 per cent – below the 3.4 per cent rise seen in 2018 but still more than the Consumer Price Index of 2.5 per cent. RDG ties fares to the higher Retail Price Index to the disappointment of passengers.
RDG has justified the increase by saying 98p of every £1 spent on fares goes into running the railways, covering day-to-day costs, while government investment helps fund infrastructure improvements.
However, passengers have rallied against the increase – especially those on the Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern networks, who were stuck with weeks of chaos this summer following the introduction of a new timetable.
MPs have spoken out against the fare increase, saying transport secretary Chris Grayling should take action to freeze prices. Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton Pavilion, warned that higher train fares could “lock” commuters into cars, “which means less choice, dirty air and climate breakdown”.
But Paul Plummer, CEO of RDG, maintains that fares are “underpinning” improvements to the network.
Plummer commented: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year. Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy. That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country.”
RDG has also pointed out that “successive governments have decided that farepayers should cover a greater proportion of the cost of running the railway, freeing up taxpayer funding for record levels of investment in infrastructure to improve journeys and support economic growth”.
The government also directly influences changes to around 45 per cent of regulated fares, including season tickets, according to RDG. The rest are controlled by other factors such as the amount of money operators pay to the government for their franchise.
Furthermore, RDG revealed that the ‘Millennial’ 26-30 railcard that was due to be released by the end of the year will instead be launched on 2 January as the new fares come into effect.