Outrage as rail fares set to rise by 3.2% in 2019
THE cost of regulated rail fares will increase by 3.2% next year, adding as much as £150 to season tickets.
Around 40% of fares will rise by this amount in January, including season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and Anytime tickets around major cities.
The price of these fares is controlled by the Government.
It uses the July Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation – announced by the Office for National Statisticsyesterday – to determine the cap on the annual increase.
Many long-distance commuters will see the annual cost of getting to work increase by £150.
A 3.2% increase in season tickets will see annual passes from Treforest to Cardiff Central increase by £31 a year to £1,011, Neath to Cardiff cost £1,763 (up £55), Bangor to Llandudno cost £1,300 (up £40) and Brighton to London cost £4,846 (up £150).
The announcement came as unions pledged to press ahead with aboveinflation pay claims amid growing anger at a call by the Transport Secretary for lower wage rises.
Chris Grayling wrote to union general secretaries on Tuesday, stating he wants to “see lower levels of increase for passengers in future” by using the lower Consumer Price In- dex (CPI) inflation figure, rather than RPI.
But he suggested this can only happen if pay rises are also based on CPI.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union accused Mr Grayling of trying to cap pay rises and blame workers for high fares.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the increase in regulated fares as “an insult to everyone who has suffered from the chaos on Britain’s railways”.
He went on: “The Government’s shambolic mismanagement of our railways has been a national embarrassment and they must now step in to freeze fares charged on the worst performing routes. Labour will take back control of our railways by bringing them into public ownership so they are run in the interests of passengers, not private profit.”
The introduction of a new timetable in May caused widespread chaos in the north of England and on various London commuter lines. Thousands of passengers are still waiting to receive enhanced compensation.
The disruption led to the Government vetoing further timetable changes expected in December, which means upgrades in areas such as the West Midlands, the west of England and South Western Railway routes have been cancelled or delayed indefinitely.
Pressure group Railfuture claimed train passengers are being treated like “second-class citizens compared to motorists”.
Spokesman Bruce Williamson said: “We’ll easily have the most expensive fares in Europe, yet the Government continues to freeze fuel duty for motorists. Why the double standard?”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “With passengers already furious at the shocking level of service on Britain’s ripoff privatised railways, today’s news is just another kick in the teeth that will come back to haunt both the Tory Government and the train companies alike.”
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail De- livery Group, which represents the railway, said: “Fares are underpinning a once-in-a-generation investment plan to improve the railway and politicians effectively determine that season ticket prices should change in line with other day-to-day costs to help fund this.
“While the industry is learning lessons from the recent timetable change, major improvements have been delivered this year from upgraded stations at London Bridge and Liverpool Lime Street to new trains in the South West and Scotland, and more will be delivered in the next year.”
The Scottish Government caps regulated offpeak fare increases at RPI minus one percentage point.
Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road said regulated fares went up by an average of 3.3% in January 2018, following the July 2017 RPI figure of 3.6%.
The rate of Retail Price Index inflation, which is used to set rail season ticket prices in Britain, was 3.2% in July
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling