Train firms may be forced to cut fares for commuters

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The Independent Online

Train companies could be forced to cut the prices of some fares in line with falling prices across the rest of the economy, it emerged last night.

Today, Transport Secretary Lord Adonis will announce that the Government has rejected the companies' pleas to relax rules on compulsory price reductions, forcing them to cut the cost of "regulated fares" including season tickets and off-peak returns.

These tickets are linked to the inflation rate, which is predicted to be negative in the coming months. The price cuts will benefit commuters, but there are fears that the cash-strapped companies could be forced to lay off staff.

They could also be forced to put up the prices on unregulated fares such as singles and cheap day returns.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "RPI will be significantly negative in July, according to forecasting. Andrew Adonis will tell the Transport Select Committee that if these predictions prove accurate then the Government intends to allow regulated fares to fall. He will dismiss suggestions that fares might be frozen simply to benefit the train operating companies, as this would be grossly unfair."