Rail fares to rise by average of 2.3% next year

Proposed increases have been condemned by campaigners

Updated: 


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".

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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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