Millions of train passengers face the largest hike in rail fares for more than a decade in March.
Here’s everything you need to know about the fare hikes, and when tickets will be getting more expensive this month.
How much are rail fares increasing?
Rail fares in England and Wales will increase by an average of 5.9 per cent on Sunday 5 March 2023.
Analysis from the Press Association found that this was the largest annual rise since a 6.2 per cent jump in 2012.
Examples of annual season ticket rises based on a 5.9 per cent hike include:
- Woking to London: Up £216 from £3,664 to £3,880
- Liverpool to Manchester (any route): Up £169 from £2,864 to £3,033
- Gloucester to Birmingham: Up £274 from £4,636 to £4,910
This increase does not apply to Scotland – where fares have been frozen until March – while in Northern Ireland it was announced that public transport fares would rise by around 7 per cent on Monday 6 March.
About 45 per cent of fares on Britain’s railways are regulated by the Westminster, Scottish and Welsh Governments.
They include season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and flexible tickets for travel around major cities.
Train operators set unregulated fares, although their decisions are heavily influenced by governments due to contracts introduced because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Annual increases in fares used to be implemented on the first working day of each year, but have been delayed since the start of the pandemic.
Why are train ticket prices rising?
Despite the steep price hikes, the increase is significantly below the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation figure for July 2022 of 12.3 per cent, on which the rise would usually be based.
Instead, the DfT opted to align the figure with last July’s average earnings growth “for this year only”, reflecting the unusually high inflation figures and ongoing UK cost of living crisis.
Since the railways were privatised in the mid-1990s, regulated fare rises have not been more than one percentage point above or below the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper stressed this point when the increase was announced in December, insisting: “This is the biggest-ever Government intervention in rail fares.”
He added: “It has been a difficult year and the impact of inflation is being felt across the UK economy. We do not want to add to the problem.
“This is a fair balance between the passengers who use our trains and the taxpayers who help pay for them.”
However, Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “This savage fare hike will be a sick joke for millions reliant on crumbling services.
“People up and down this country are paying the price for 12 years of Tory failure.”
Norman Baker, of lobby group Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We must be grateful for small mercies: it is clear that the increase could have been much worse. But this is still a large rise which will deter some people from using the railways.
“This increase stands in stark contrast to the situation with fuel duty, which was cut earlier this year after being frozen for years.”
Additional reporting for Press Association