British commuters to be hit by biggest rise in five years
Rail passengers will be hit by the largest fares hike in five years next month.
Industry body Rail Delivery Group says ticket prices across Britain will go up by 3.4 per cent on average in January - the sharpest rise since 2013, when fares increased by 3.9 per cent.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus compared the news to "a chill wind" blowing down platforms as many passengers' incomes are stagnating or falling.
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.
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."
Alex Hayman, from consumer publication Which? said: “This price hike will be another blow for passengers, many of whom continue to experience cancellations, delays, overcrowding and poor service from train companies.
"For passengers to genuinely get value for money, they must be able to find the best ticket for their journey, cheaper fares must not be hidden and compensation must be paid where it is owed.”
One in nine trains (12 per cent) failed to meet the rail industry's punctuality target in the past 12 months, meaning they arrived at their final stops more than five minutes late for commuter services or 10 minutes late for long-distance journeys.
Fewer than half (47 per cent) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to Transport Focus.
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.
Office of Rail and Road figures published in October showed that £4.2 billion of taxpayers' cash went to the rail industry in 2016/17.
Taking inflation into account, this is down almost 13 per cent on the previous year but more than twice as much as British Rail used to get before the rail network was privatised.
The RDG highlighted that private investment in rail reached a record £925 million in 2016/17.
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