Page last updated at 04:27 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Train fare hikes hit passengers

Commuters on train
Passenger groups say the hikes are "out of kilter"

Commuters will have to pay an average of 6% more for their train journeys, as above-inflation rises come into force.

Passenger groups say the high increases for most tickets in England, Scotland and Wales cannot be justified, especially in today's economic climate.

Off-peak and leisure fares have seen some of the biggest rises - up 11% on the CrossCountry train service.

Train companies say more money will allow more investment and cheaper fares can be had if customers shop around.

The 6% increase for regulated fares, including standard, rush hour and season tickets, is based on the inflation rate for July.

The economy has deteriorated since then, and so the increases are expected to be even more unpopular than usual.

Government policy

Unregulated fares - off-peak and leisure fares - have gone up by an average of 7%.

For and against: Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus and Michael Roberts, ATOC

CrossCountry, whose network covers 1,500 miles (2,414 km) and stretches from Aberdeen to Penzance and from Stansted to Cardiff, has the highest increase for its unregulated fares.

East Midlands Trains, Chiltern Railways, National Express East Coast and South West Trains have put their unregulated fares up by more than 7%.

The BBC's transport correspondent Tom Symonds said part of the increase results from the government's policy of reducing the amount taxpayers are spending on the railways and replacing it with a bigger contribution from fare payers.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, condemned the scale of the increases.

Fare rises that hark back to a time of high inflation and spiralling energy costs look very out of kilter
Anthony Smith
Passenger Focus

"Many passengers will shudder and shiver when they find out the scale of some new year fare rises," he said.

"Average rises for regulated fares are 6%, unregulated 7% but inflation is currently well below this.

"Fare rises that hark back to a time of high inflation and spiralling energy costs look very out of kilter."

But Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), said the average increases amounted to just 1 or 2 a day for many season ticket holders.

Commuting by rail was still "considerably less expensive than commuting by car - even allowing for falling petrol prices", he added.


Changes from 2 January 2009

Train company Avge regulated rise Avge unregulated rise
Arriva Trains Wales 6% 6%
c2c 6% 6%
Chiltern Railways 6% 7.50%
CrossCountry 6% 11%
East Midlands Trains 6% 7.40%
First Capital Connect 6% 9%
First Great Western 6% 6.60%
First ScotRail 6% 6%
First TransPennine Express 6% 6.40%
London Midland 6% 0%
Merseyrail 5% 5%
National Express East Anglia 6% 6%
National Express East Coast 6% 7.40%
Northern Rail 6% 7%
Southeastern 8% 6%
Southern 6% 6%
South West Trains 6% 7.20%
Virgin Trains 6% 7%
Average 6% 7%

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