Rail passengers set for largest rise in fares in five years

An Intercity train at Ipswich Station heading for London (stock image). Picture: PAUL GEATER

An Intercity train at Ipswich Station heading for London (stock image). Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Rail passengers will be hit with the largest increase in rail fares in five years, it has been announced.

The average price for a ticket is set to go up by 3.4% on January 2, according to industry body the Rail Delivery Group.

It will be the biggest rise in rail prices since 2013, when fares leaped by 3.9%.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union have described the price hike as ‘another kick in the teeth’ for rail users.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “For public sector workers and many others in our communities who have had their pay and benefits capped or frozen by this Government, these fare increases are another twist of the economic knife.

“The private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”

Derek Monnery, chairman of the Essex Rail Users Federation, said he felt it was unfair for passengers to pay upfront for ‘distant promises’.

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We have poor trains that are unreliable.

“It seems every couple of weeks part of Liverpool Street Station is closed and we have a backlog of freight trains that should have been moved elsewhere - and they are expecting us to pay 3.4% more.

“It is rather like asking someone to pay for a three piece suit about three years before they get it. “It’s a payment on a promise of improvements.

“We have this problem that we are being asked to pay quite a lot more, more than most people’s salary has increased, for nothing but a distant promise.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, defended the decision to increase ticket prices, saying the money from fares would go back into improving the railway.

He said: “Government controls increases to almost half of fares, including season tickets, with the rest heavily influenced by the payments train companies make to government.

“Alongside investment from the public and private sectors, money from fares is underpinning the partnership railway’s long-term plan to change and improve.

“Working together, our plan will secure £85bn of additional economic benefits while enabling further investment and improved journeys for customers, better connections to boost local communities and a bright future for our employees.”

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said: “Our average fare increase is 3.4 per cent, however, we’re freezing our advance fares, which start from just £5 and can be up to 60-70 per cent lower than walk-up fares.

“The 3.4 per cent increase applies to Government regulated fares, such as season tickets and anytime singles and returns.

“We need to apply this increase, as many of our costs will also increase in line with inflation.

“We offer a range of great value off-peak fares such as advance, super off-peak day return, off-peak day return, Duo and Kids for £2 deals, as well as Group Save discounts.

“We have just launched a national pilot for a 26-30 rail card, offering discounted rail travel to a further population group in East Anglia.”