United Kingdom

Rail Travellers Face 2.2% New Year Price Hike

 

Commuters face another rail rise at the beginning of next year with fares rising by an average of 2.2% from 2 January.

The increase, announced by rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group, means that more rail travellers will be paying £5,000 for their season tickets than ever before.

Although the average rise is 2.2% – the lowest average rise for five years – the rise for regulated fares, including season tickets, will be up to 2.5%.

That means south east travellers commuting from Canterbury East to London, for example, will have to pay more than £40 extra in 2015 than they did for this year’s season ticket as the price rises from £4,960 to more than £5,000.

Other travellers will soon be joining the ranks of those already paying £4,000 a year for their annual return commute to work with the season ticket from West Malling in Kent to London, for example, going beyond £4,000 for the first time.

One of the longest commutes is from Cheltenham Spa in Gloucestershire to London – those on this route will see their annual tickets up from £9,468 to £9,704 – a 2.49% rise.

While the January 2015 increase is limited to a maximum of 2.5%, unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets, can go up by as much as the train companies decide.

Rail Delivery Group director general Michael Roberts said: “Money from fares goes towards running and maintaining the railway.

“This benefits not just passengers and businesses but communities across the country, by improving journeys, creating employment and helping to boost the economy.

“Over the next five years, Network Rail is spending on average £27m a day on a better railway, alongside commitments made by train companies to improve services. That will mean more seats, better stations and improved journeys.”

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: “It is time to stop this annual persecution of passengers with year-on-year hikes in fares. We have seen fares jump by as much as 245% on key routes since privatisation 20 years ago.

“It is now cheaper for a family of four to fly to Iceland to see Father Christmas – £224 – than it is for one person to buy an any-time walk on return rail fare from London to Manchester – £321.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: “The scandal of Britain’s great rail fares rip off is that today’s hike is far outstripping average pay increases and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest.

“After two decades of privatisation the British people pay some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on clapped-out, understaffed and overcrowded services while the private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

“Today’s fares announcement just fuels that scandal.

“We say fares should be cut and not staff, and public ownership would allow us to do just that. “

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