Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Latest train fare rises attacked

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

Above-inflation rail fare increases of more than 6% are "completely out of kilter with the real economy", passenger groups have said.

Anthony Smith of Passenger Focus said hikes were "difficult to explain" as wages were not rising by the same rate.

Train firms say more money will allow greater investment in services.

Michael Roberts, of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said Monday's increases were partly because taxpayer funding was being reduced.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Fare changes this year will help pay for 265,000 extra services, all against a background which is determined by government policy to reduce the call on us as taxpayers."

Good value? Passengers offer their opinions

The fare changes "actually in our view strike the right balance between trying to ensure a reasonable level of increase to fund in return much improved services," he added.

Mr Roberts 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 went on.

A spokesman for the Rail Maritime and Transport union said fares should be set at levels that encourage people to use them.

"All franchising can deliver is fat dividends for shareholders and it is clearer than ever that we need a not-for-profit railway run for the public good in the public sector."

'Particularly unpalatable'

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

The problem is the 'improved services' never arrive (like some of the trains)
Emily, Manchester

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

Mr Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: "What makes these rises particularly unpalatable is the fact that inflation is currently about 3%.

"Here we have rises that are on average 6 or 7% and in some cases 10%.

"Rail fares have got completely out of kilter with what is happening in the real economy and people are going to have dig very deep to find the extra money."

CrossCountry, whose network of sevices 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 - up 11%.

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


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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