Rail passengers face pricy 2012

Average rail fare rising by 5.9% in 2012
Average rail fare rising by 5.9% in 2012

By Alex Stevenson

Train fares are to rise by an average of 5.9% in 2012.

Passenger organisations said the hike was larger than most people would see in their pay packets next year.

But the increase is significantly less than would have been the case had the government not changed its plan to increase regulated rail fares by retail price index inflation plus three per cent.

That would have sent regulated fares up to eight per cent. Chancellor George Osborne announced last month that the government was capping increases at six per cent, or RPI plus one per cent, instead.

Those increases were combined with the alterations to unregulated fares like cheap advance fares and leisure tickets for local journeys, made by train companies, to come up with the 5.9% average.

"The long-standing government approach to sustaining rail investment is to cut the contribution from taxpayers and increase the share paid for by passengers," the Association of Train Operating Companies' chief executive Michael Roberts said.

"The industry is working together to continue cutting costs as a way to help limit future fare rises and offer better value for money for taxpayers over the longer term."

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said that passengers would have to trawl through the details to discover what the changes meant on their local routes. Some fares are increasing by as much as nine per cent.

"The spotlight will really be on train operating companies and Network Rail to deliver on their promises about performance and overcrowding," he commented.

"Us passengers are paying our fair share and we want and deserve better."

Yesterday the Office of Rail Regulator watchdog ruled that Network Rail was in breach of its licence because of "poor performance and high levels of delays", prompting shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle to call for its corporate governance structure to be reformed.

"Ministers are completely out of touch with the impact that the deteriorating performance on the rail network is having on passengers who are faced with delays and disruption day in day out," she said.

"With ticket prices set to rise... in the new year, commuters in particular are right to demand that ministers get a grip."


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