‘Excessive’: Passengers protest 2.7% average rise in rail fares

Increase of 2.7 per cent for many travellers in England, but some LNER passengers will see fares fall

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 02 January 2020 13:31
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Rail fare rises: commuters are unsurprisingly unhappy

Millions of commuters returning to work after the Christmas and new year break are paying more for their rail tickets.

A general 2.7 per cent rise in rail fares has taken effect across Britain – though some fares in Wales have actually fallen.

Rail travellers in Scotland will see mean fares rise by slightly less. The Scottish government applies a cap of the retail price index level minus 1 per cent for off-peak journeys. The average increase across all rail trips in Scotland is likely to be about 2.4 per cent.

A large majority of all rail journeys are made to, from or within London, and travellers arriving at London King’s Cross were unimpressed with having to pay more for what many feel is an inadequate service.

Jeanette Kirkham, who had just travelled in from Baldock in Hertfordshire, said: “I’m just about to renew my season ticket. It has gone up a few hundred pounds for the year.

“It seems a little bit excessive really, considering the number of cancellations.

“I know we’ve got a lot of new trains, but there still seem to be issues.”

A long-distance traveller, Richard Smith, arrived on platform 1 from South Yorkshire aboard a state-run LNER train.

“I travel quite a bit on the trains every week, and I’ve probably seen in the past year more delays than I’ve ever seen before.

“I don’t particularly think we should be charged more.”

They were greeted at King’s Cross by a small demonstration organised by the Association of British Commuters and the RMT union – whose general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “We’re still paying for the failures of rail privatisation. The fact is, we’ve got a costly rail network due to the way it’s structured, and it’s got to be changed.

“Stop blaming the hard-working staff.”

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “This government will improve the railway system to ensure the focus is always on putting passengers first.”

LNER is today beginning a fares trial which will see passengers able to buy cheaper single-leg tickets on services from London to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Previously, the cost of an off-peak single was just £1 less than an off-peak return. Under this trial, the cost of a “super off-peak single” from London to Edinburgh is now £75.75 – half the return fare.

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