Why are rail fares rising when services are so bad?


Rail commuters woke up to bad news this morning when it was announced fares would be going up despite services not improving. But why is this happening?

Many had called for prices to be frozen following chaos caused by the implementation of new timetables in May.

Passengers also suffered through the worst punctuality for 12 years over summer and around 14% of services in the last year have not met timetable targets.

But fares will still be going up by an average of 3.1% in January, which will translate into an increase of more than £100 for many long-distance commuters.

File photo dated 14/8/2018 of off-peak day return rail tickets and money. Britain???s rail fares will increase by an average of 3.1% on January 2, industry body the Rail Delivery Group said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday November 30, 2018. Many long-distance commuters will see the annual cost of getting to work rise by more than ??100 when the new fares come into force on January 2. See PA story RAIL Fares. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Rail fares will increase by 3.1% in January (Picture: PA)

The reason for the price increase is rail companies are not being subsidised by the government as much as they used to be.

Successive governments have chosen to reduce the funding of the railways by taxpayers and increase the relative contribution of passengers.

This means price hikes like the one that was announced today.

According to Office of Rail and Road data, it will be the largest rise since January 2013.

MORE: Rail fares to go up by 3.1% from New Year despite failing services

File photo dated 28/07/2016 of commuters waiting to board a train. Rail commuters are spending up to five times as much of their salary on season tickets as passengers on the continent, a new study has revealed.

Passengers are already being squeezed onto trains – now they’re being squeezed in the pocket as well (Picture: PA)

Around 40% of fares are regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments and increases to these were capped at July’s RPI figure, which was 3.2%.

Regulated fares include season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and flexible tickets for use in major cities.

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A train at Leeds station as Sir Richard Branson's company Virgin will from next year be running the UK's two main London to Scotland rail routes.

Britain’s rail fares will increase by an average of 3.1 per cent on January 2 (Picture: PA)

As you probably guessed passenger groups are not happy with the latest increases and claim people are being priced off the railways because wages are not increasing at the same rate as fares.

Chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus Anthony Smith said customers contributed more than £10 billion a year to rail companies and this should be enough.

He added: ‘When will this translate into a more reliable railway and better value for money for passengers?’

Mr Smith called for a ‘fairer, clearer fares formula’ based on the CPI measure of inflation rather than the RPI figure.