Rail fares that are regulated by the UK government, are to rise by an average of 4.1% in 2014, 1% higher than the average inflation rate of 3.1%, as determined by the July Retail Price Index (RPI).
The rises are said to be necessary for the maintenance and upgrading of the network, as well increasing investment for the provision of more reliable train services and better facilities. The exact fares for each route, including season tickets, will be released by train companies later this year and the rises will take effect on 2 January 2014.
According to the BBC, train companies can vary regulated fares by up to 5% above the average 4.1% rise, which means certain fares could increase by as much as 9.1%, however fares that go up by more than the average must be balanced by others that are lower, or rise by less.
The Northern Ireland and the Welsh governments do not currently plan to increase rail fares in those parts of the British Isles, while rail fares in Scotland are capped at the rate of inflation.
Research published by the Campaign for Better Transport shows that rail fares in Britain are increasing almost twice as fast as the average salary. The organisation claims that since 2007, fare increases have exceeded wage increases by nearly 14%. Its chief executive Stephen Joseph commented: “Getting to work is now the biggest single monthly outgoing for many commuters – more than food, more than housing. One of the surest ways of stamping on any green shoots of recovery is to price people off the trains and out of the jobs market. For the sake of the economy we should end above inflation fares increases now and start planning for fare reductions.”
In response to the release of the July Retail Price Index (RPI), which helps determine regulated train fares for the following year, the chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, Michael Roberts, stated:“Government determines how the average season ticket price rise is set each year. Since 2004, it has been Government policy to allow regulated fares to rise above inflation in order to support investment in more trains, better stations and faster services.This is helping to drive passenger satisfaction to near record levels while seeking to reduce taxpayers’ contribution towards the cost of running the railways. In order to help limit future fare rises, the rail industry is working with the Government to find ways of providing services even more efficiently, building on the progress that has already been made.”