As rail commuters head back to work after the Christmas break, there was one thing they had to look forward to – price rises. Today train fares rose by an average of 6%. Are you struggling to afford your commute?
Rail travel in the UK is already the most expensive in Europe, with the Campaign For Better Transport (CBT) claiming that some season tickets are 3.5 times more than the most expensive European tickets.
And as we see the New Year in, rail prices have sneaked up again. It’s not as bad as it could have been – the government announced in November that rises would be capped at inflation (RPI) plus 1%, rather than the previously planned plus 3%.
Then again, that still leaves us with an average rise of 6%, which for many could result in the hundreds of pounds.
Railing against the rises
Some routes have even seen prices increase by as much as 11%. Why? Because regulated tickets are grouped into baskets, and although each basket must not exceed an average 6% increase, individual ticket prices within these baskets can ‘flex’ by up to 5%. That means some prices can rise by a total of 11% (as long as others increase by less). Confusing, huh?
Some season tickets have now surpassed £8,000, which is a huge chunk of your pay packet. In fact, figures from Hay Group consultants today showed that many commuters are spending up to a fifth of their wages on getting to work.
Londoners, for example, spend on average 17% of their wages on commuting – and that’s before the Tube is taken into account. Thankfully, I only have to pay for the Underground, but since there’s a 6% rise there as well, I’ll have to cough up an extra £74 this year.
#Farefail for a fair rail
Today’s price rises have led the CBT to organise a day of action against what it calls ‘rip-off rail fares’, urging people to tweet in protest with the hashtag #farefail. In an open letter to the government, the CBT writes:
‘The decision to raise fares year after year takes us further away from a value for money rail service, which is what we need if we are to meet the economic and environmental challenges we all face.’
Perhaps commuters would be happier to accept these rises if there was a visible improvement in rail services? Sadly, improvements are often tough to see, with delayed and cancelled trains common on many lines.
At the end of the day, our rail network is expensive to run and the money has to come from somewhere, whether passengers or taxpayers. The government’s trying to reduce the amount taxpayers invest, but if commuters are struggling to afford tickets is it time to reverse this approach? Commenter Simon thinks so, telling us on a previous Conversation:
‘It would be good if we could all be encouraged to use public transport, in order to fill the buses and trains and reduce our utter personal reliance on guzzling petrol. Only by making the railways an attractive option, both in terms of cost and efficiency, will this be achieved. And sadly, the only fair way to do that is through a subsidy for the long-term benefit of all.’
With fares rising faster than inflation, and wage rises lagging far behind, can you really afford to travel by train any more?
Will the latest rail price rises make you stop travelling by train?
Yes, I'll look for other ways to travel (46%, 169 Votes)
I'll reduce my train journeys when it's practical (35%, 129 Votes)
No, I haven't got any alternatives to train travel (20%, 73 Votes)
Total Voters: 371