Rail companies accused of hiding increases

Rail fares will see their lowest annual increase since privatisation next year, but that will not spare some passengers from price hikes of as much as 15 per cent, Britain’s train companies have revealed.

Passengers will see an average price rise of 1.1 per cent from 1 January, below the level of inflation expected by economists next year. However, train operators were immediately accused of attempting to dupe their customers after it emerged that some fares would see increases of well above inflation.

Rail firms will be forced to lower the prices of regulated fares, which include most commuter fares, season tickets, and long distance off-peak journeys, by 0.4 per cent as a result of the measure of inflation used to calculate them. According to the Retail Prices Index, inflation stood at -1.4 per cent in July. Companies are only allowed to increase regulated fares by one per cent above that figure. Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, also stepped in to enforce stricter limits on regulated fare increases earlier this year after ticket prices saw record increases at the start of 2009, despite the recession.

However, the slight fall in regulated fares will be accompanied by increases in the cost of other types of tickets. Some unregulated fares, which include advance-purchase and walk-on tickets, will see steep rises. A supersaver ticket from Swindon to London will rise by 15 per cent from £20 to £23. A spokesman for First Great Western, which runs the line, said that the ticket price had been cut severely in September, making it considerably cheaper than a year ago.

A walk-on return from London to Bristol Temple Meads will also rise above the rate of inflation, increasing from £153 to £159. Some off-peak returns on the Southeastern franchise will see a 7.3 per cent rise. A Cardiff to Manchester advanced-purchase ticket will increase by nearly ten per cent, from £11 to £12.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) was accused of trying to mask the big price rises on some routes. While it has given an average price rise for regulated and unregulated fares for each rail company in the past, Atoc refused to give a similar breakdown of the increases yesterday, raising fears among passenger groups that the overall 1.1 per cent price increase was being used to “hide some horror stories” of much more severe price hikes.

Ashwin Kumar, the passenger director at Passenger Focus, said that Atoc’s refusal to give further details of price rises was deeply worrying. “Its departure from usual practice in publishing details of average regulated and unregulated fare increases for each rail company raises concerns that there are some large price rises for some passengers,” he said. “Passengers need to be told how much more they will be paying next year.” Gerry Doherty, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said the 1.1 per cent figure represented the most “outrageous piece of spin” of the year.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrats’ transport spokesman, said: “Even though inflation has been falling, rail companies still managed an overall increase in fares. We all recognise that times are tough but putting rail fares up will not get people back on to the railways.” Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said the figures were nothing more than “spin and gloss” that showed that the privatisation of the railways had been “a taxpayer-sponsored rip-off”.

Michael Roberts, Atoc’s chief executive, defended the price rises. “Not only is January’s average fare rise the lowest since privatisation, but it will come in well below the rate of inflation, meaning a real- terms cut in prices for many passengers,” he said.

Meanwhile, figures released by the RAC today show that the price of motoring has fallen by five per cent this year. Its annual Cost of Motoring Index found that the average £123 annual saving was due largely to falling petrol prices. However, eight out of 10 motorists said they still believed that the cost of running their car had risen.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map