2nd January 2015
Rail commuters in England and Wales will have to suffer increased fares from today but trade unions have warned ticket fares are outstripping wage growth.
Regulated fares, including season tickets, has increased by up to 2.5% and the average rail fare has increased 2.2% from today.
The increases come at a time when commuters have faced widespread delays in London, East Anglia and Wales over the Christmas period.
Trade unions have warned that passengers are struggling to pay for increases in their travel as wage growth has not kept pace, remaining stagnant for the past five years.
‘This year’s fare hike will hit passengers particularly hard because wages are rising so slowly,’ said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
‘Rail fares are now consuming a huge proportion of people’s wages, leaving precious little for other bread and butter expenses.’
The Campaign for Better Transport has pointed out that some fares have increased by four times more than the average wages over a five-year period. A Milton Keynes to London season ticket has risen 23.5%, or £930, since January 2010 and now costs £4,888.
The TUC said the UK has the highest rail fares in Europe as rail companies squeeze passengers further in order to carry out modernisation of the rail networks.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the railways were becoming a ‘rip-off’.
‘The scandal of Britain’s great rail fares rip-off continues with today’s hike far outstripping average pay increases, and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest.’
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the BBC that any rise in prices was ‘regrettable’.
‘We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation since the Victorian era and fares have a crucial role to play in funding these improvements.’
Michale Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, said the average 2.2% increase in fares was the lowest for five years.
‘We understand no-one likes to pay more, especially to go to work. For every £1 spent on fares, 97p goes on track, train, staff and other costs while 3p goes in profits earned by train companies for running services on Europe’s fastest-growing railway.’