By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
The Rail Delivery Group has announced that UK train fares will increase by 3.1% from January 2nd 2019, adding hundreds of pounds to many commuters annual travel. This is below the increase at the beginning of 2018 by 3.4%, which slightly under the 3.6% cap set for regulated fares. However the price rise also means that UK passengers will pay the highest train fares in Europe.
This increase follows the worst year for rail disruptions in a decade, with very little certainty that the services will improve, leading to calls for a price freeze following the widespread chaos caused by the introduction of a new timetable in May.
Alex Hayman of the consumer group Which? said these price rises will only add to passenger’s misery after a year of timetable chaos, with rail punctuality falling to its lowest levels in 12 years.
“Value for money needs to be a key part of the upcoming government review and passengers must receive automatic compensation for delay and cancellations.”
Regulated fares, which cover around 45% of faired on national rail and include season ticket, off-peak returns and anytime faire around major cities, are set to rise by the level of the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation in July. The rest, which includes advanced and peak long-distance tickets, can be increase at the train companies’ discretion.
Campaigners have criticised the use of RPI as it is not widely used in government and is normal higher than the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, Darren Shirley, has said:
“Rail passengers have endured enough this year, with botched timetable changes and delays to their journeys which led to the worst punctuality figures in 12 years. The government should introduce a fare freeze from January. Any future fare increases should be based on the consumer price index rather than an outdated and discredited measure of inflation. Rail travel should be affordable so passengers aren’t left struggling with the cost of their commute.”
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