If the rude awakening from a routine of lie-ins and Quality Streets isn’t bad enough, rail commuters are most likely to be returning to work with above-inflation train fare increases this morning.
Across the whole rail network the average fare will today cost you an extra 3.9% and the average season ticket will cost 4.2% more than it would have done in 2012. But on some unregulated routes fares have gone up by as much as 11%.
Research from the Campaign for Better Transport suggests that on average, UK fares are 20% higher than European rail prices, and London commuters pay twice as much for their season tickets as their counterparts in other major European cities.
Personally, I’ve seen an extra £144 added onto my annual season ticket from Hertfordshire into London. Getting to and from work will now cost me the princely sum of £3,392 a year.
I’m lucky that I can use a season ticket loan from my employer to fund the cost upfront but it still takes a chunk out of my salary every month that makes my eyes water. And for anyone who purchases their ticket monthly or weekly, the hit on your wallet is likely to be even bigger.
Sending budgets off the rails
The cost of travel is putting a severe strain on already overstretched budgets. In the South East, for example, commuters are often spending more than 15% of their salaries getting to work. Some people have had enough and according to our latest Consumer Tracker nearly a third of people say they are planning to cut their spending on public transport over the next few months.
I think people would be a little more accepting if they felt they were getting good value for money. But it’s difficult to stomach fare raises for future upgrades and improvements that may take years to come into effect.
Maybe I’m just too cynical, but I have not seen much evidence of improvements over the past few years. There seem to be delays aplenty, and over crowding in carriages. In fact, some trains in the UK are now overcrowded by as much as 180%.
Do you feel you get value for money from your train services? Have you been priced out of public transport?