10 key questions on the annual increase in rail fares

Passengers on Britain's railways are facing the largest increase in fares for five years.

Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 7:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 7:35 am
Rail passengers travelling on the first working day of 2018 are being hit with the largest fare rise in five years.

The Press Association looks at 10 key questions around the annual rise:

:: How much have fares gone up by?

The average increase is 3.4%.

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:: How does this compare with previous years?

It is the biggest rise since 2013. Fares went up by 2.3% last year.

:: Who pays for the railways?

It has been the policy of successive governments to reduce the funding of the railways by taxpayers and increase the relative contribution of passengers.

:: Who decides fare increases?

Regulated fare rises are set by the Government, which uses the Retail Prices Index inflation measure from the previous July (3.6% in 2017).

This applies to around half of tickets and includes season tickets.

:: What about other tickets?

They are set by the operators.

:: Where does the money go?

The Rail Delivery Group says profit margins for rail firms are around 3%, with the majority of revenue spent on investment in the network (26%), staffing (25%) and maintenance (22%).

:: What improvements are being made?

The Department for Transport says it is investing in the biggest modernisation of the network since Victorian times, with major projects to provide faster and better trains with more seats.

:: What do passenger groups say?

They claim fare rises are pricing people off the railways because wages are not increasing at the same rate.

:: What impact are fare rises having on demand?

Passenger numbers have more than doubled since the network was privatised in the mid-1990s.

But latest figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that passenger journeys fell by 0.4% between July and September compared with the same period in 2016.

Season ticket use fell by 9.4% to its lowest level since 2010.

:: Is there any way of avoiding the fare rise?

Many savvy commuters renewed their season tickets in the days before the annual rise, meaning they are paying last year's prices.

Passengers can also save money by getting a railcard, travelling off-peak and booking in advance, although these options are not available for many journeys, particularly by commuters.