'Another kick in the wallet' - Rail fares go up by 3.1% despite punctuality problems

Rail fares have increased by an average of 3.1% amid punctuality at a 13-year low.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 02 January, 2019, 07:31
One in seven trains were delayed by at least five minutes in the past 12 months as a series of major issues have plagued the railway.

The cost of many rail season tickets rose by more than £100 due to the annual price hike on Wednesday.

A rail campaign group described the latest fares rise as "another kick in the wallet" for passengers.

The rail industry insists the "vast majority" of revenue from fares covers the day-to-day costs of running the railway.

One in seven trains were delayed by at least five minutes in the past 12 months as a series of major issues have plagued the railway.

Press Association analysis of historical data revealed this is the worst performance since September 2005.

Extreme weather, errors in the launch of new timetables, strikes and signalling failures are among the causes.

The 3.1% average fare rise is the second highest since January 2013.

Robert Nisbet, regional director of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, acknowledged "nobody wants to pay more for their journey to work" but insisted money from fares is being used to "build the better railway customers want".

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling marked the increase in fares by announcing that a new railcard to extend child fares to 16 and 17 year olds will be available in time for the new academic year in September.

A railcard for 26-30 year olds goes on general sale at noon on Wednesday.

Mr Grayling claimed the Government's "record investment" in the rail network will help passengers get the "frequent, affordable and reliable journeys they deserve".

'A disgrace'

Labour analysis of more than 180 routes suggests an average commuter is paying £2,980 for their annual season ticket, up £786 from 2010, which was the year the Conservatives came to power as part of a coalition government.

The research also indicates that fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages.

The party's leader Jeremy Corbyn has described today's increase as a "disgrace".

In a video message, he said the rail network should work in the interests of everybody "not just the profits of the few" and said the Government was to blame for the price hikes.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claimed the latest increases are "an affront to everyone who has had to endure years of chaos on Britain's railways".

Labour has pledged to return the railways to public ownership and called for prices to be frozen on the worst performing routes.

Rail union leaders, politicians and campaigners will protest against the increasing cost of rail travel outside stations across the country.

Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said fare payers are being "battered by the toxic combination of gross mismanagement and profiteering".

Fewer than half (45%) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to a survey by watchdog Transport Focus.

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Its chief executive Anthony Smith said "the rail industry cannot be short of funding" as passengers contribute £10 billion a year in fares.

He added: "When will this translate into more reliable services that are better value for money?"

Bruce Williamson, from campaign group Railfuture said: "After a terrible year of timetable chaos, passengers are being rewarded with yet another kick in the wallet."

How much have the fares gone up?

Train fares in Britain have gone up by an average of 3.1%

Here are the average increases for train operating companies serving North East England:

CrossCountry: 3.2%

Grand Central: Refused to disclose an average increase

London North Eastern Railway: 3.4%

Northern: 3.2%

TransPennine Express: 3.1%

Virgin Trains: 3.2%

Increases in around 45% of fares, including season tickets, are regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.

They are predominantly capped at July's RPI inflation figure, which was 3.2%.

Other fare rises are decided by train companies.

It has been the policy of successive governments to re-balance the funding of the railways between passengers and taxpayers.

This has resulted in a reduction in the relative contribution of taxpayers, and an increase in fares.

Office of Rail and Road figures for 2017/18 show revenue from fares and other passenger charges reached £9.7 billion.

Net government support to the industry over the same period totalled £6.4 billion (excluding Network Rail loans). Almost a third of this was HS2 funding.

The Department for Transport has commissioned former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams to carry out a root and branch review of Britain's railway, including fares.