Rail fares across the UK are increasing by an average of 3.1 per cent at the beginning of January, adding a further cost to commuters who are already financially stretched and having to deal with poor levels of service.
The fare increase arrived to news that punctuality on the UK’s railway network has hit a 13-year low, with one in seven trains failing to meet the industry’s punctuality standard.
For those who travel using season tickets, the 3.1 per cent price hike will mean paying out considerably more to get to work in the new year.
According to Which? the worst affected passengers will be those who commute into London from Brighton, with their annual season ticket costing £148 more in 2019 than it did in 2018. People travelling between Gloucester and Birmingham aren’t going to fare much better, with their annual ticket price increasing by £130.
Anyone travelling on routes from Woking to London or between Manchester and Liverpool will be paying £100 more a year for the privilege.
But it isn’t only those who travel using season tickets who will feel the pinch, as the price of walk-in tickets has also increased by the same level. The Independent pointed out that this means journeys in some areas now cost passengers over £1 per mile.
The newspaper highlighted the route from Swindon to Didcot Parkway, which at £24.20 for a standard anytime fare now costs £1.01 per mile.
Travelling from Watford Junction to Stockport also costs over £1 a mile (£1.02), with this anytime ticket coming in at £175.50. However, the news provider pointed out that in this instance, you could purchase a ticket from London to Manchester which is cheaper, despite covering a longer distance.
Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, has criticised the fare increase given the poor level of service passengers around the country have received in 2018.
“The government’s decision to push ahead with this fare rise despite a year of delays, cancellations and overcrowding, shows a total disregard for passengers and may leave many wondering what they are paying for,” he stated.
For businesses with many employees who commute, it could be time to start looking at whether there are more cost-effective and reliable alternatives to the UK’s rail network.
If many people are commuting in from the same area each day, arranging corporate coach hire in Bucks could be a good way to help your staff travel to the office without the stress of having to rely on the trains.
The Department for Transport appears to acknowledge that there are issues that need fixing with the country’s rail system, and has commissioned a review into Britain’s railway network, including looking at fares.
According to the Campaign for Better Transport, the government should be using the consumer price index (CPI), rather than the retail price index (RPI), to determine fare increases. If they’d used the CPI this year, prices would have gone up by 2.5 per cent at the beginning of 2019, rather than the 3.1 per cent determined by the RPI.