Rail fares will increase by an average of 3.1% in 2019.
Announced by the Rail Delivery Group, the increase in rail fares will add hundreds more pounds onto annual commuting costs of passengers.
Although the increase is lower than the 3.4% hike of 2018, the rise in rail fares will be unpopular, capping a decade during which the cost of rail travel has increased faster than wages; real pay has actually declined in the last 10 years.
Any increases in fares are met with scepticism but after a year of real disruption on the network, the latest news is controversial.
Rail passengers have endured a miserable time – especially during summer when cancellations and delays were rife because of the timetable changes which made the services on offer worse. Northern, whose services were severely affected, are putting their rail fares up slightly higher – a 3.2% increase.
The new rail travel prices will come into force on 2 January 2019. Paul Plummer is the Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, acknowledged the “significant disruption” of 2018, but said the increases are necessary.
He said: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.
“Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy.
“That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country.”
The Rail Delivery Group said 98p of every £1 goes towards running the railway, underpinning investment in 7,000 new carriages and hundreds more trains refurbished so that there are 6,400 extra services a week by 2021.
However, Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus, said a more accurate formula is needed to determine rail fares.
“Many passengers, still reeling from summer timetable chaos and frustrated by ‘autumn’ disruption, won’t believe fares are going up again. Until day-to-day reliability returns – with fewer significant delays and cancellations – passenger trust won’t begin to recover.
“It’s also time for a fairer, clearer fares formula based on a calculation that uses the Consumer Prices Index, rather than the discredited Retail Price Index.”