Transport: Commuters buffeted by 10 per cent increase in rail fares

Rail users are to be hit with soaring ticket prices after the Government announced measures that will see fares rise at more than twice the rate of inflation for three years in a row.

The Department for Transport (DfT) calculated that rail fares would rise by 10 per cent in real terms over the next four years. However, campaigners said season tickets could increase by as much as 30 per cent by 2014.

The subsidy handed to local bus operators will also be reduced, paving the way for services to be slashed.

Under changes revealed in the Comprehensive Spending Review, regulated rail fares – which include season tickets – will be allowed to rise by three per cent above inflation from 2012. Government rules currently limit fare increases on regulated fares (which make up two-fifths of all journeys) to one per cent above inflation.

It will come as miserable news for commuters, who already face a six per cent rise in their ticket prices in January. With the Treasury predicting inflation of around two to three per cent from next year, fare hikes are likely to come to around six per cent in total each year.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, said higher fares were needed to safeguard improved services for passengers. Spending on major transport projects will be £30bn over the next four years, greater than the figure spent on Britain's transport network in the four previous years, he said.

It means large infrastructure projects, such as the £16bn Crossrail scheme in London and the South-east, have been spared from the huge cuts programme. London will also benefit from a £6bn programme of investment that will see faster services and more frequent trains introduced to the Tube network. Other spending to be rescued included the Mersey Gateway bridge and the widening of the M1 motorway.

Train station upgrades totalling £2.1bn were also approved. Refurbishments at Birmingham New Street, London King's Cross, Reading and Gatwick Airport station will all take place.

Campaigners said that Mr Osborne had used the large figure set aside for major transport projects to mask cuts to services and spiralling fare prices. "The Chancellor's statement focuses on large-scale transport projects but the reality is cuts in funding for everyday transport," said Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport.

"Hard-working commuters who depend on the train face paying over £1,000 more for their annual season ticket by the time of the next election. These eye-watering rises are unacceptable."

The fares watchdog, Passenger Focus, warned that commuters would not tolerate the prospect of seeing season tickets rise dramatically as they were already being charged some of the highest rail fares in Europe.

"This level of price rises puts the spotlight on industry performance," said Anthony Smith, its chief executive. "For such prices, passengers will rightfully expect punctual, clean trains with a reasonable chance of getting a seat. Passenger Focus will be pressing to ensure that the rail industry is as efficient as possible. Savings identified by the Government's value-for-money review should be passed on to passengers."

Allowing fares to rise by three per cent above the retail price index (RPI) from 2012 means the Government will be able to reduce the £5bn it gives towards the cost of running Britain's trains each year.

The impact on fares

If inflation is around 5 per cent (the Retail Price Index is currently 4.6 per cent as of September figures) then RPI+3 equals an 8 per cent rise. This would lead to yearly rises of:

* £80 extra on a typical annual season ticket costing £1,000 (eg Redditch to Birmingham – cheapest current fare £1,056)

* £120 on an annual season ticket costing £1,500 (eg Macclesfield to Manchester – cheapest current fare £1,496)

* £160 on an annual season ticket costing around £2,000 (eg Slough to London – cheapest current fare £2,004)

* £200 a year on an annual season ticket costing around £2,500 (eg Sevenoaks to London – cheapest current fare £2,520)

* £240 a year on an annual season ticket costing around £3,000 (eg Farnborough to London – cheapest current fare £2,940).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links