/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Rail fares must go up, but not by 37%

Train on tracks

Campaigners are warning that rail fares could increase by as much as 37%. Although this figure is a little alarmist, there’s no getting away from the fact that fares are destined to rise. But will the prices be fair?

Can you imagine paying even more for your season ticket? Even if you can, it’s unlikely you’d do so happily – you’ve already expressed your disgust at train ticket prices on Which? Convo:

‘The price of rail is an outrage!’ Jim commented in a previous Conversation, ‘If I had a choice I would much prefer the train, but it actually works out cheaper to drive.’

Mr Gus agrees: ‘I find it incredible that I can buy a season coach ticket for my commute for £2,500 but if I took the train it would cost me £3,700, when surely it should be more efficient to run a train with so many people on it.’

How high could rail fares rise?

Rail fares are even harder to bear when peak train times are getting longer, as we found in our research. But now the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) claims that ticket prices could be more than a third higher in 2015 than they are today. Quite the kick in the teeth.

The warning comes before the government’s spending review, where a cap on fare rises is expected to be cut. At the moment rail companies can only increase fares by 1% more than the Retail Price Index (RPI). But industry sources say this could rise to 3% from next year.

This could make some train fares 37% dearer by 2015. For instance, CBT warns that a season ticket from Swindon to London could increase by £2,490 to £9,130.

Alarmist figures unlikely to materialise

Still, these figures are slightly alarmist – we’d hope that the government wouldn’t let fares swell so much. Not only would this have have an adverse affect on both commuters and businesses, it would cost them votes. A YouGov poll found that 74% of commuters would be less likely to support a party that would raise the cap on fare increases.

Plus, if rail companies were allowed to increases prices by this much, it’s unlikely they’d actually do so. With prices so high, why would you travel by train? You’d either find work elsewhere or find another mode of transport, like Mr Gus and his coach.

Although fares are unlikely to climb so high, there’s no doubt that we’ll soon face an assault on our wallet. We’re already set to see around a 5% rise in January.

But how irritated should we be? Not only is our rail network expensive to run, it needs improvement. So if we want a fast and regular service for all, rather than something that’s less convenient during the day, someone has to fit the bill.

The question is – who should step up to the plate? Commuters or taxpayers?

Comments
Profile photo of mad1
Member

It will be the poorer people left out again by this government. You got to think of vulnerable in society who do not own a car but want to travel to see members of their families or friends as well go to leisure attractions where the tickets are very expensive.

I hope train companies can find a way to keep costs down and provide a better service by working in partnership with another company from the travel industry or outside.

Profile photo of mad1
Member

it will be the poor peope who will be missed out by this.

I hope the travel industry with perhaps external stakeolders can work together to provide a more efficient and better value for their customers.

Profile photo of Richardtrombone
Member

We seem to be losing the idea of a “turn-up and go” railway, with seemingly inceased restrictions on off-peak travel and a ridiculously complicated ticketing structure which does not guarantee the cheapest fares, plus the emphasis on booking in advance online to get the “cheapest” fares. There is no way that any TOC can justify charging peak-time fares, with the accompanying restrictions on when you can use family-railcards etc, between 9.00, or 9.30 at the latest and 4.30 – 5.00pm. The TOCs should remind their shareholders that they also providing an essential public service, and that sometimes providing this service is more important.

Profile photo of Shire of rose
Member

All Railway companies are working like oil companies. Make massive profit and hit poorest harder and harder. They do not listen passengers voice. They want to trap more and more rail users in to penalty fare as they do not understand peak and off peak hours. More and more people are using their car for cheaper option. I have never seen that any Minister has tried to force all rail companies to simplyfied their rail fares. GOVERNMENT WILL NEVER ACHIEVED THEIR TARGET TO REDUCE BURDEN ON ROAD. We all hope that budget Airlines should take interest to take over our railway !..