Train fares to rise 1.1% while reliability remains ‘dire’

Punctuality figures show more than one in ten trains arrived at least five minutes late in the past 12 months. Picture: John Devlin
Punctuality figures show more than one in ten trains arrived at least five minutes late in the past 12 months. Picture: John Devlin
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Train fares in Britain rise by an average of 1.1 per cent today.

It is the smallest annual increase since 2010, but campaigners warned that some passengers would be “amazed there are any fare rises at all” because of the quality of the service.

The average rise for regulated fares – which is about half of all tickets and includes annual passes – was limited to no more than 1 per cent as it is linked to July’s rate of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation.

But unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets, change by whatever amount the train companies decide.

The average rise for all fares in England, Wales, and Scotland was announced as 1.1 per cent by rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group. Northern Ireland is treated separately.

Punctuality figures published by Network Rail show more than one in ten trains (10.7 per cent) arrived at their final destination at least five minutes late in the past 12 months.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “In some parts of the country, given rail performance has been so dire, passengers will be amazed there are any fare rises at all.”

He added: “Passengers are paying their part in the railways – rail revenue is heading towards £9 billion a year. The rail industry must now keep its side of the promise: deliver on the basics.”

And Bruce Williamson of campaign group Railfuture claimed fares were “increasingly divorced from reality”.

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He criticised the government’s policy of using RPI to calculate regulated fare rises, rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

“High street prices have remained stagnant for more than a year, with the official CPI inflation figure hovering around zero, yet the government thinks it’s fair to make rail travel even more expensive,” he said.

“RPI is completely discredited and is rarely used by government, except when it comes to jacking up rail fares. It’s time it was ditched.”

Commuters with annual season tickets can find out how much their fare has gone up by checking on the National Rail Enquiries website.

A 12-month pass from Basingstoke to London will cost £4,196 in 2016, up by £40 from £4,156. Those travelling from Cheltenham Spa to London will see their annual tickets rising from a January 2015 figure of £9,704 to a January 2016 figure of £9,800.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “We know that nobody likes to pay more to travel by train, especially to get to work, and at 1.1 per cent this is the smallest average increase in fares for six years.

“On average 97p in every pound from fares is spent on trains, staff and other running costs.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “Passengers are left paying through the nose to travel on unreliable and overcrowded services.

“Meanwhile, vast profits are being bled from our railways.”