Train fares to rise by average of 2.3%

Train fares in Britain will go up by an average of 2.3% from 2 January, the rail industry has announced.

The increase covers both regulated fares, which includes season tickets, and unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets.

The rise in regulated fares had already been capped at July’s Retail Prices Index inflation rate of 1.9%. Unregulated fares face no cap.

Campaigners argued some passengers were being “priced off” the railways.

Lianna Etkind of the Campaign for Better Transport said: “The train operating companies and the government need to work closely together to provide fairer, simpler and cheaper fares making sure people are always sold the cheapest ticket available.

“Between 1995 and 2016 passengers have seen average fares increase by 23.5% and much more needs to be done by train operators and the government to give them a truly affordable railway.”

Around 40% of rail journeys have regulated fares, and 60% are unregulated.

Some unregulated fares are likely to rise by considerably more than 2.3%.

That far outstrips the inflation rate, which is currently running at 0.9%, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index.

The pace of fare increases has slowed a little in recent years, but it follows a decade’s worth of steeper rises which began in 2004.

It’s all because successive governments have changed the way they split the bill for running the service, so that passengers pay more and other taxpayers pay less.

About 70% of the total network cost is met from ticket sales now. It used to be about 50%.

Ministers are spending record amounts upgrading the service, which is creaking under huge demand for train travel that no-one saw coming.

But it hasn’t stopped punctuality levels falling well below target.

Month’s compensation for Southern users

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said the industry was working to simplify fares and improve services.

“We understand how passengers feel when fares go up, and we know that in some places they haven’t always got the service they pay for,” said Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group.

“Around 97p in every pound passengers pay goes back into running and improving services.”

The increases cover fares in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland is treated separately.

Meanwhile, more than 84,000 passengers on Southern Rail are to receive compensation for the disruption they have experienced during 2016.

The government said the delays were caused by “Network Rail track failures, engineering works, unacceptably poor performance by the operator and the actions of the RMT union.”

Season ticket holders will be able to claim a month’s compensation, directly into their bank account.

To qualify, customers must have paid for at least 12 weeks of travel, between 24 April and 31 December 2016.

From 11 December passengers on Southern Rail will additionally be able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late arriving.

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