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UK rail fares up 3.8% in biggest rise in nearly a decade

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·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
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UK rail fares up 3.8% in biggest rise in nearly a decade
The 3.8% rise in rail fares comes at a time when the UK's cost of living is rising at the fastest pace for 30 years. Photo: Giannis Alexopoulos/Getty

Train passengers in England and Wales have been hit with 3.8% increase in rail fares, with campaigners accusing the UK government of “stoking the fire of the cost of living crisis.”

Regulated fares in England and Wales cover around half of fares and include season tickets on most commuter routes.

For example, an annual season ticket between Brighton and London has risen by £194 to £5,302 and a year-round ticket between Liverpool and Manchester is up £105 to £2,865. Neath to Cardiff will cost £1,922, an extra £70.

The rise that came into effect on Tuesday is the steepest increase since January 2013, according to figures from industry body the Rail Delivery Group.

Rail fare increases are normally introduced on the first working day of every year but have been delayed until March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: TFL: Sadiq Khan hits Londoners with biggest tube and bus fare hike in a decade

"We have protected passengers by delaying these fare rises by two months and, even then, opting for a figure well below current inflation rates," said the Department for Transport.

"However, we must now look to recoup some of the £14bn which was spent to keep vital services running throughout the pandemic in a way that is fair for all taxpayers."

The government added that the increase was below the rate of inflation.

The current retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation stands at 7.8%. The rail fare increase is based on last July's RPI inflation rate.

The increase in train fares would have been higher than up to 3.8% if the government used its normal formula of RPI plus 1%.

However, Bruce Williamson of Railfuture said: "Ordinary working people are feeling the squeeze like never before, yet the government is stoking the fire of the cost of living crisis with these eye-watering fare increases.

Read more: What Ukraine invasion means for consumer prices in the UK

"How does this help get the country back to work?"

He warned that passengers will be “bankrupted” next year if the formula for setting rail fare rises is unchanged, with inflation “likely to hit 8%.”

Paul Tuohy, of Campaign for Better Transport, said the increase in fares “couldn't come at a worse time”.

"Higher fares and crowded trains as a result of service reductions aren’t very appealing, and risks people working from home more or driving into work instead, further adding to congestion and air pollution."

Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said: “Jacking up rail fares as we begin the journey out of a pandemic is a staggeringly stupid move by this Tory government.

"It’s almost as though ministers want to force people off our railways and into cars in an effort to speed up our climate crisis.”

Fares are up by an average 4.8% in London — 1% above RPI — from Tuesday, as a condition of the emergency funding settlements agreed between central government and Transport for London.

Read more: UK facing worst cost of living crisis in 60 years

The price hike comes as Londoners face major delays this week because of strike action by thousands of workers on the Tube.

All London Underground lines are suspended this Tuesday and Thursday, with a knock-on effect on Wednesday and Friday.

Watch: Commuters battle against tube strikes in London

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