Up, and over the odds

On January 2nd train fares regulated by the government went up by 2.7% (average), driven by the July annual increase in RPI (retail price increase). The link to RPI has changed over the years, but as the table by Railfuture shows (below),  a £100 fare in 2003 would now be £181.33. That 83% increase in ticket prices over 16 years compares with just 45% inflation in consumer price index. CPI is calculated differently to RPI (for example   it does not include housing costs). CPI is nearly always less than RPI meaning train fares are based on the higher measure of inflation, meaning they don’t just go up but go up (arguably) over the odds.

Rail businesses and DfT have said for years that that fare rises are needed to pay for improvements. We’ve seen increased services, even at long last new trains (working through their defects). But as travellers continue to suffer too many late trains, too many cancellations, too many trains overcrowded, and franchise failures to increase services as promised can any fare rise be justified?

TransPennine Express, after a terrible Autumn for its passengers (even worse than Northern’s) announced a 3% rebate on season tickets. Shouldn’t other operators be made to do the same?