Rail passengers will be hit by the largest fares hike in five years next month.
Ticket prices across Britain will go up by an average of 3.4 per cent and 3.2 per cent on ScotRail, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) announced today.
The 2 January rises are It is the sharpest rise since 2013, when fares increased by 3.9 per cent.
The lower ScotRail rise is because its increase in off-peak fares is pegged 1 per cent lower than for England-based train operators.
ScotRail passengers travelling during rush hours will see fares go up by 3.6 per cent.
However, off-peak tickets on Scotland’s main train firm will increase by 2.6 per cent.
Transpennine Express, whose routes include Edinburgh and Glasgow to Manchester, has announced the biggest average increase, of 4.6 per cent.
It said that followed a two-year price freeze “on some of our most popular advance products [fares]”.
Fellow cross-Border operator CrossCountry’s fares will rise by an average of 4.1 per cent.
Virgin Trains East Coast fares will go up by an average of 3.4 per cent, and on
Virgin Trains West Coast by 3.3 per cent.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus compared the news to “a chill wind” blowing down platforms as many passengers’ incomes are stagnating or falling.
Chief executive Anthony Smith said: “While substantial, welcome investment in new trains and improved track and signals is continuing, passengers are still seeing the basic promises made by the rail industry broken on too many days.”
One in nine trains (12 per cent) failed to meet the rail industry’s punctuality target in the past 12 months.
READ MORE: Scottish Rail fares to increase in January
That means they arrived at terminating stations more than five minutes late for commuter services or 10 minutes late for long-distance journeys.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union described the fares announcement as “another kick in the teeth” for passengers.
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.”
Fewer than half (47 per cent) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to Transport Focus.
The Government uses the previous July’s Retail Prices Index measure of inflation to determine increases in regulated fares, which was 3.6 per cent.
These are around half of all tickets and include season tickets on most commuter routes and some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys.
Train operating companies set the prices of other tickets but are bound by competition rules.
The RDG said more than 97p in every pound from fares goes back into improving and running the railway.
Chief executive Paul Plummer noted that the Government controls increases to almost half of fares while the rest are “heavily influenced” by the payments train companies make as part of contracts to run franchises.
He said: “Alongside investment from the public and private sectors, money from fares is underpinning the partnership railway’s long-term plan to change and improve.”
It has been the policy of successive governments to reduce the funding of the railways by taxpayers and increase the relative contribution of passengers.
The average train fare increases across Britain since 2013, according to the RDG:
- January 2013 - 3.9%
- January 2014 - 2.8%
- January 2015 - 2.2%
- January 2016 - 1.1%
- January 2017 - 2.3%
- January 2018 - 3.4%
Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby, said: “Passengers will be infuriated to see the largest increase in rail fares in five years.
“Commuters in Scotland already pay some of the highest fares of any passengers in Western Europe yet the service they receive is simply not good enough to justify such staggering fare hikes.”
Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said: “Rail passengers, particularly commuters, in Scotland have had a torrid time as of late.
“Delayed, cancelled and overcrowded trains are what springs to mind when many commuters think of their rail journey, so to ask them to pay a significantly increased fare for a poor service is wrong.”
Caledonian Sleeper fares will remain unchanged as it is not a “regulated fares franchise”, operator Serco said.