Finance, Uncategorized

Commuter woes to continue

Train fares across the UK went up by an average of 3.4 percent in the New Year, the largest rise in rail fares for five years.

The amount is slightly below July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) of 3.6 percent which is used to set almost half of fares, including season tickets. It means an annual Ipswich-London Liverpool Street fare has increased to £6,458, up more than 2 percent, from £6,323 the previous year.

The rise comes amid a series of rail strikes across the country and with fewer than half (47 percent) of passengers being satisfied with the value for money of their ticket, according to a recent survey by passenger watchdog Transport Focus, as rail fares outpace household incomes.

“This latest increase in rail fares is staggering,” said Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald.

“Private rail companies continue to cash in while passengers and commuters have to cough up. The Tories should follow Labour’s example and commit to ending the scandal of train companies being run for profit rather than people.”

But on average, only 3p in every pound of a train fare is kept by rail companies, according to Network Rail.

The remaining 97p is largely spent on investing back into the rail network (26p), industry staff costs (25p) and the maintenance of track and trains (22p).

Government policy since 2007 has sought to shift the financial cost of the railways onto passengers and away from the taxpayer, with fares making up 71 percent (£9.6bn) of the rail industryís income in 2015, which is up from 57 percent (£6.6bn) in 2010.

Greater Anglia has current investment plans to replace their current fleet by 2020 and provide more than 32,000 extra seats on trains to London Liverpool Street during the morning rush-hour by the following year.

A spokeswoman for the rail operator said: “Our average fare increase is 3.4 percent, however, weíre freezing our advance fares, which start from just £5 and can be up to 60-70 percent lower than walk-up fares.”

“We need to apply this increase, as many of our costs will also increase in line with inflation.”

“We have just launched a national pilot for a 26-30 railcard, offering discounted rail travel to a further population group in East Anglia.”

Dubbed the ‘millennial railcard’, and available only to those who live in the East Anglia region, it provides one-third off rail fares across the country.

However, it has been criticised by some for its restriction to off-peak travel, not covering season tickets and most commuter journeys.


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George Goldberg