2014 commuter fares hit £5,000 barrier


london   oct 8  a train pulls...

Although some commuter fares should not rise by more than 3.1% from 2 January, there are some new price shockers. Those commuting from parts of Kent will now be shelling out more than £5,000 a year in season tickets (Deal, Kent to London, for example).

A Bedford-London commute now costs £4,300. These costs, of course, don't include subsequent Tube or bus fares.

£5,000 + fares

There's a measure of relief for some; those who endured large price hikes in 2013 will see a bit of restraint for 2014. The overall average rise must not exceed 3.1%, but some fares will rise by as much as 5.1%.

"Next month," says Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, "passengers will see season tickets going up three times faster than their wages. Government needs to do more to stop the squeeze on commuters and avoid pricing people off the railways."

Out of date

Joseph wants a end to inflation busting fares rises calculated using what he says is an out-of-date formula. "It [RPI] over-estimates real inflation so consistently that the Office of National Statistics has dropped it as an official measure."

The Government has already switched to CPI for most things. Doing the same for train fares, says Joseph, would have little impact on railway revenues but would save passengers cash and bring fares into line with public sector pensions.

For non-commuters, Osborne's fare cap means little. That's because off-peak leisure tickets are not subject to a price cap. Train companies can charge what they think the road (or track) will bear.

Already re-nationalised

For those who claim nationalisation is only the answer, much of the UK rail work network is nationalised: Greater Anglia, for example, is operated by a company called Abellio, which is a subsidiary of the nationalised Dutch rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen.

Arriva Trains Wales and Chiltern Railways are now part of the Deutsche Bahn family, controlled by the German state (bought for £1.59bn in 2010), not to mention the London Overground. Which begs the question, if other states are happy to run our railways, why isn't our own government?