UK rail fares to rise above inflation for first time in nearly a decade


Suban Abdulla
Sun, 28 February 2021, 11:51 am GMT

A commuter uses his ticket to exit the platform at Waterloo station, in central London on January 2, 2018. - As the price of an average ticket rose by 3.4 percent on January 2, 2018, rail passengers travelling on the first working day of 2018 are hit with the biggest fare rise in five years. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Increases in England mean that the cost of an annual pass between London and Brighton will go up by £129 ($180) to £5,109. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP via Getty Images

Rail fares in England and Wales will rise above inflation rate for the first time in about eight years on Monday.

The government has been accused of “pricing the railways out of existence” after the coronavirus pandemic saw the sector buckle to its knees as passenger numbers dwindled due to lockdowns and working from home.

The move will see fares increase by 2.6% in England and Wales and Scotland will be introducing a 1.6% rise in the cost of peak travel, with off-peak journeys up 0.6%.

Ticket price increases have been based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation from July last year, which was 1.6% and the government adds one percentage point.

The policy first introduced in January 2014 determines rises in England’s regulated fares including season tickets.

Increases in England mean that the cost of an annual pass between London and Brighton will go up by £129 ($180) to £5,109.

While price hikes are ordinarily announced in the first week of January, this was pushed back due to the third COVID-19 lockdown in England and most parts of the UK.

Industry experts have called out the government’s decision to hike prices. “It just doesn’t make sense to kick the rail industry when it’s down,” Bruce Williamson from the Railfuture pressure group said.

He said that the rise is “the usual punishment for rail passengers, just slightly delayed.”

READ MORE: £5bn UK high street COVID recovery fund in store in Budget

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the government wants to ensure taxpayers are not “overburdened” considering they are already covering franchises’ losses to keep regular services running throughout lockdown.

In January 2020 rail fares increased by 2.4% compared to the 2.7% rise in the RPI, according to the Office of Rail and Road figures.

The data also shows that between January 2004 and January 2020 average fares went up by 15% in real terms.

Meanwhile the Trades Union Congress (TUC) warned that the hike “will not help commuters and city centres recover” from the coronavirus crisis.

According to the Rail Delivery Group, 98p of every £1 spent on train tickets goes back into the railway sector, to maintain and keep the services running.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said this year’s increase is the lowest rise in four years – “despite unprecedented support for the rail industry.”

“By delaying the change in fares, passengers who needed to renew season tickets were able to get a better deal, and we will set our further plans to offer cheaper, more flexible tickets for commuters in due course,” the spokesperson added.

Commuters who want to save money before the increase can renew their season ticket before in the days before prices go up, travel at off-peak times or getting a railcard. But travellers are encouraged to work from home where they can at the moment due to the lockdowns.

WHAT A BLOODY JOKE!!! THIS INCOMPETENT GOVT IS POWERLESS TO STOP EXHORBITANT RAIL INCREASES EVERY YEAR EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THIS HORRIBLE PANDEMIC.BRITAIN HAS ONE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE RAIL NETWORK IN THE WORLD YET, THE GOVT REFUSES TO RENATIONALISE THE TRANSPORT INDUSTRY.