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Consumer groups hit out at rail fare rise

Cherry Reynard
Written By:
Cherry Reynard

Consumer groups and unions have hit out against rising rail fares, which will increase by 3.4% from 2 January.

The increase is the biggest since 2013. The chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, Anthony Smith, said: “A chill wind will blow down England’s platforms in January as rail fare increases bite. Many passengers face stagnant or falling incomes while rail fares continue to climb.”

General Secretary of the RMT Union, Mick Cash, said: “These fare increases are another kick in the teeth for British passengers who will still be left paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out, unreliable trains where private profit comes before public safety.”

Smith called for a ‘fairer, clearer’ Consumer Prices Index formula to be used as the basis for rail fare rises rather than the Retail Price Index.

The Rail Delivery Group countered the criticism, saying 97p of every pound paid in fares goes back into the railway – for new trains, better services and improved stations.

Smith said: “While substantial, welcome investment in new trains and improved track and signals is continuing, passengers are still seeing the basic promises made by the rail industry broken on too many days. Passengers’ immediate priorities are clear: a more reliable railway, better handling of disruption and better value for money.”

Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said: “This price hike will be another blow for passengers, many of whom continue to experience cancellations, delays, overcrowding and poor service from train companies.

“For passengers to genuinely get value for money, they must be able to find the best ticket for their journey, cheaper fares must not be hidden and compensation must be paid where it is owed.”

A number of new regions will now see their rail fares tip over £5,000, including Oxford and Colchester.