Rail fare increases hit commuters

Commuters are likely to be hit hard by rail fare increases, with the average price of regulated fares, which includes season tickets, increasing by 3.1% in 2014. The overall average rail fare rise this year, taking into account all ticket types, is 2.8%.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) commented:

“Rail fares have been rising faster than wages for a decade now, putting more strain on household costs.

“The government must re-examine its fares policy as a matter of urgency and commit to a fairer system in line with the consumer price index so that fares only rise in line with wages”.

The report, commissioned by CBT and carried out by consultants Credo, suggested that while fares covered only 80% of railways’ operating costs in 2009, by 2018 it is likely they will cover 103%, which could mean that the Government could make a profit from rail passengers in the future.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said:

“The government understands concerns rail passengers have about the costs of fares and the impact they have on household budgets.

“That is why, for the first time in a decade, regulated fares will not rise on average by more than the rate of inflation, offering relief for families and the hard-working people.”

It is also thought that rising transport costs mean that some commuters are no longer making a saving by living outside the capital.

According to research by estate agent Haart, the average mortgage saving by commuters living just outside of London added up to £10,799, but this was compared to the cost of an average yearly season ticket of £5,160.

In the case of couples who both commute to work, this could mean that the mortgage saving they made by living outside of London would no longer offset their transport costs. The study looked at 14 popular commuter areas, and places such as Southend, Southampton and Lincolnshire were all identified as low cost areas where commuters could still potentially make savings overall.

Frances O’Grady, Trades Union Congress General Secretary, added: “Rail passengers and taxpayers are being poorly served by a privatised rail service that has failed to deliver any of the efficiency, investment and cost savings that privatisation cheerleaders promised.

“While the shareholders of the private train operating companies are doing well for themselves on the back of massive public subsidies, passengers are paying the highest share of their wages on rail fares in Europe.”

The cost of London travelcards was also due to rise, but this has now been delayed until the 19th January.