Rail fares to rise by average of 2.3% next year


Rail compensation

Train fares will go up by an average of 2.3% next year, the rail industry has announced.

The figure is the average increase across all rail tickets and will take effect from January 2.

Lianna Etkind of the Campaign for Better Transport condemned the increase, warning that some passengers are "finding themselves priced off the railways".

See also: Misery for Christmas rail passengers as engineering works announced

See also: Virgin Trains to boost recruitment from UK prisons

She said: "The train operating companies and the Government need to work closely together to provide fairer, simpler and cheaper fares making sure people are always sold the cheapest ticket available.

"Between 1995 and 2016 passengers have seen average fares increase by 23.5% and much more needs to be done by train operators and the Government to give them a truly affordable railway."

Ms Etkind accused the Government of "dragging its feet" over the introduction of flexible season tickets with "fair discounts" for the eight million part-time workers across the UK.

"It is not right that part-time workers have to buy expensive one-off tickets, or season tickets which they then waste on the days they don't work," she said.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: "We understand how passengers feel when fares go up, and we know that in some places they haven't always got the service they pay for.

"Around 97p in every pound passengers pay goes back into running and improving services.

"Fares are influenced by government policy, either through government-regulated fares such as season tickets or as a result of the payments train companies make to government.

"This money helps government to support the biggest investment in our railway since Victorian times."

Rail , Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said; "This latest fares hike is another kick in the teeth for British passengers and condemns them to continue to pay some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains.

"Once again the rip-off private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank as they whack up fares and axe staff in all-out dash to maximise their profits.

"This culture of private greed on Britain's railways has to stop and RMT will step up the fight for a publicly-owned railway where services and safety are the priority, not corporate profits. "

Alongside the fares announcement, the Government said that some of Southern rail's long-suffering passengers in the south of England are to repaid the equivalent of a month's travel.

More than 84,000 passengers will be compensated to recognise the huge amount of delays, cancellations and disruption on the network in recent months.

The chaos has partly been caused by strikes over changes to the role of conductors and high levels of staff sickness.

Season ticket holders will be able to claim a refund for the equivalent of a month's travel.

Passengers with an annual ticket will be able to claim the "one off" pay out against their 2016 ticket, which can be paid directly into their bank account.

Customers claiming against quarterly, monthly or weekly tickets must have bought travel for at least 12 weeks between April 24 and December 31 to be eligible.

The Government said GTR, the parent company of Southern, has the details of most season ticket holders and it will be inviting them to log on to a website to claim compensation.

The company will also be able to consider proof of purchase from people claiming a payout who have not previously registered.

Rail minister Paul Maynard said: "Getting Southern rail services back on track is a priority for the Government and I know that what passengers want most is a reliable service.

"But when things do go wrong it is right that we compensate people who have not had the service that they deserve. This is a gesture in recognition of the problems people have faced.

"We're working hard to get Network Rail and Southern to improve this network and get this railway working the way people expect.

"We are investing record amounts in improving our railways and we need everyone in the rail industry, including the unions, to work together to deliver for passengers."

Passengers on GTR's services will be the first in the country to be able to claim compensation under the separate Delay Repay 15 scheme.

From December 11 they will be eligible for a pay out for train delays over 15 minutes, rather than the current 30 minutes.

Under Delay Repay 15 passengers will be entitled to compensation worth 25% of the cost of a single fare for delays of between 15 and 29 minutes.

The thresholds for more serious disruption are:

:: · 50% of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes

:: 100% of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes or more

:: 100% of the return fare for delays of two hours or more

Delay Repay 15 will be rolled out across the rail network when operating franchises are renewed.

Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said: "Our passengers have had to endure many months of disruption and misery due to industrial action and poor performance and for that I am truly sorry.

"While they have clearly been able to claim under our Delay Repay scheme, we welcome this additional compensation package.

"It is also good news that our passengers will be the first to benefit from Delay Repay 15 as it is something our passengers have been telling us they want for some time.

"Our aim is always to get passengers to where they want to go on time, but if we don't, it is right that they are compensated."

The average increase in train ticket prices will be the largest in three years.

Fares went up by 1.1% this year, 2.2% in January 2015 and 2.8% in January 2014.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Passengers will be disappointed that fares will rise by 2.3% - higher than the last two years.

"Passengers will now want to see the industry's investment deliver a more reliable day-to-day railway. The Government should consider setting rail fare rises around the Consumer Prices Index instead to bring rail fares into line with other recognised measures of inflation.

"Many commuters, in London and the South East in particular, have suffered poor performance. For Southern passengers the one-off refund will be a welcome step to rebuilding trust in the long term.

"The 15-minute Delay Repay compensation on Govia Thameslink Railway starting next week is a welcome improvement for passengers."

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Great railway journeys
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Great railway journeys

 Reaching heights of 3000 feet and going 100 miles the other side of the Arctic circle, this trip links Stockholm and Kiruna, in Norway. Highlights include the longest fjord in the world, Sognefjord, which is 126 miles long and 4000 feet deep. Come in the summer, and you'll experience the meaning of the term, 'land of the midnight sun'. Visit greatrail.com for more info.

There's no doubt that this is the most luxurious way to cross India. A steam engine drags the train out of Delhi for a week-long trip to the royal estate at Rajasthan. Along the way there's canoodling with elephants in the pink city, Jaipur, a camel safari in the desert at Jaisalmer and a tour of Agra's extraordinary Taj Mahal. Visit thepalaceonwheels.net for more.

Beginning in Cuzco (one of South America's most enchanting cities) and winding its way along the path of the Urubamba River, Peru's famous railway line takes in colossal Andean mountains, Inca ruins and llamas galore. And that's before you get to the unbelievable lost city of Macchu Picchu. For more info, visit machupicchutrain.com for info.

Great Rail Journeys offers berths on arguably the greatest passenger train on the planet, the Golden Eagle, for an astounding ride covering 11 time zones. This epic journey begins in Warsaw and ends 8,000 miles away in Vladivostock. Along the way there's a chance to go ice fishing in the world's biggest lake, Baikal, take a troika carriage in Suzdal, lunch out in a traditional Mongolian 'yurt' tent and gape at the golden domes of Yaketerinburg.

The Orient Express is a byword for luxury travel. Traditionally it served Paris and Istanbul, but that's no longer the case. These days it runs between Strasbourg and Vienna, so you'll have to improvise. Four journeys- Paris-Strasbourg, Strasbourg-Vienna, Vienna-Belgrade and Belgrade-Istanbul- will suffice, taking you from the heartland of Western Europe to the gateway of Asia. Truly a journey worth undertaking, 127 years since its maiden passage.

This railway has been in operation since 1893, giving spectacular views of one of Switzerland's most beautiful regions. It climbs from Interlaken to a height of 11332 feet at Jangfraujoch Station. A phenomenal feat of engineering allows the train to enter through the middle of Eiger mountain. From the top you can see as far as the Black Forest in Germany- this is the so-called 'Roof of Europe' after all. Inside the glacier is Ice Palace, an exhibition of ice sculptures. The cost of a return fare is steep - fares are over hundred quid - but well worth it. Visit jungfrau.ch for more.

The Blue Train offers a luxury service crossing South Africa. It takes in Victoria Falls, the haunting barren landscape of the Great Karoo and the incredibly seaside city of Cape Town. And along the way you'll be glued to the window hoping to spot elephants, lions and other wonderful animals in their wild habitat. Visit bluetrain.co/za for more.

If you want a taste of real speed try a ride on Japan's Shinkansens. The latest model of these bullet trains reaches speeds of 186mph. This means you reach Osaka from Tokyo (515 km away) in a mind-boggling two hours and 25 minutes. You can take a Shinkansen all the way across Japan, from Kagoshima in the south-west to Hachinoche in the north-east. Just be sure not to blink. Visit seat61/japan for more.

Beginning in Tangier (the sleazy port which inspired the likes of Paul Bowles, William H. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac) the train stops at the delightful medieval town of Asilah . Then it heads inland from the modern metropolis of Casablanca, home to the stupendous Hassan II Mosque. The closer to Marrakech one gets, the land becomes pinker and barer, until the foothills of the Atlas Mountains- where the magnificent city itself appears in all its glorious weirdness. Visit greatrail.com for more.

This engineering triumph – which cost $90 million and took 90 years to complete – crosses the guava-spotted deserts and canyons of northern Mexico, linking the Pacific Coast and Chihuahua City by way of 87 tunnels and 36 bridges. The Copper Canyon itself features two climactic zones, so sub-tropical forests give way to a cool alpine climate with oaks and pines. for Visit mexicoscoppercanyon.com for more info.

Don't listen to what anyone else says; from Switzerland to Siberia, by bullet train or steam engine, it's still the best way to travel. 

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