Commuters face £100 hike in season tickets as latest fare rise confirmed

Alan McGuinness, news reporter

Some commuters are facing the prospect of a £100 increase in the price of their season ticket after the latest fare rise was announced.

The annual maximum increase in regulated fares is linked to July's Retail Prices Index measure of inflation, which the Office for National Statistics has revealed stood at 2.8% last month.

Regulated fares make up around half of train tickets and cover season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and tickets for travel around major cities at any time.

The rise means many commuters face paying an extra £100 a year to get to work from the start of 2020.

Examples of potential season ticket increases (if the full 2.8% is applied) include:

Rail campaign groups have warned that commuters will "refuse to pay" if the price of season tickets continues to rise.

They have also called for the lower Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation to be used instead. This stood at 2.1% last month, according to the ONS.

Research by passenger watchdog Transport Focus has found that fewer than a third (30%) of commuters are satisfied with the value for money of their ticket.

Labour said hard-pressed commuters were having to "pay more money for bad train services".

The party's shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "The government has sat back and allowed private train companies to cash in while people's pay has been held back.

"Continuous fare rises undermine urgent action to tackle the climate emergency by pricing people off the railways.

"Labour will bring our railways into public ownership so they are run in the interests of passengers, not private profit."

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: "It's crucial that rail companies and the new government make sure the money raised from these price hikes is being used to make improvements to their journeys."

He added: "It's particularly infuriating that fares continue to rise, while often passengers are left unsatisfied with the services they receive."

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group said 98p in every £1 spent in fares goes back into running the railway.

The organisation's director of nations and regions Robert Nisbet said: "No one wants to pay more to get to work but by holding rises down to no more than inflation, [the] government is ensuring that money from fares continues to cover almost all of the day-to-day costs of running rail services.

"This means private sector and taxpayer money can go towards improving services for the long term."

Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road said regulated fares went up by an average of 2.8% this past January, following the July 2018 RPI figure of 3.2%.

The fare rise news comes after the Department for Transport confirmed that a railcard which extends child fares to 16 and 17-year-olds in England and Wales will go on sale for £30 next week.