Rail passengers warned to expect 3.5 per cent fare rise in 2019

Rail commuters are being warned to expect a 3.5 per cent fare increase in 2019, which could see passengers on some longer distance routes paying up to £150 more each year for their travel.

Exact fare rises will not be confirmed until the July Retail Prices Indexconsumer inflation measure is released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday.

However, economists at both Investec and EY Item Club both forecast that the figure, which the Department for Transport (DfT) uses to calculate fare rises, will be announced as 3.5 per cent.

All regulated train fares –including season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long distance journeys, and anytime tickets around major cities –would be subject to the price hike in January.

Fares were increased by 3.5 per cent this year.

The Campaign for Better Transport said the government must provide better rail servicesto justify year-on-year fare rises.

The introduction of new timetables in May caused chaos on routes in northern England and on various London commuter lines, leading to hundreds of cancelled or delays trains over several weeks.

“Given the mess surrounding the new timetable, the lack of improvements and the failure to deliver compensation, the government cannot go on telling passengers that fare increases are justified,” aspokesman for the campaign group said.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the union Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said rail services were in “free fall”.

“Justice for passengers means dropping the annual rip-off rise and also simplifying the Byzantine fare structure which privatisation has imposed,” he added.

“Better still, end this costly farce. Put passengers before profits by bringing our railways back into public ownership.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, described Chris Grayling ’s handling of the railways as “beyond a joke”.

He called for a freeze to fares on Govia Thameslink , Arriva Rail North and First Transpennine Express services, the three operators worst affected by timetable changes.

“The government’s failure means passengers have faced truly staggering fare rises, with fares having increased three times as much as wages,” Mr McDonald said.

A DfTspokesman said: “Any fare increase is unwelcome, but it is not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do.

“Taxpayers already subsidise the network by more than £4bn a year – meaning that 38 per centof our transport budget is spent on the 2 per centof journeys that the railway accounts for.”

The spokesman added that fare increases are helping to pay for extra carriages and services, as well as upgrades on the Great Western Main Line and the Transpennine route.

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