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?