Rail fares in England and Wales will rise by more than inflation today, for the first time since 2013.
The cost of train tickets will increase by 2.6 per cent. Unions are concerned that the price hike will slow the recovery from the Covid pandemic.
Rail fares generally rise in the first working day of the year, but this was delayed in 2021, due to the pandemic, and to allow people who purchase annual passes to secure them at a slightly lower rate.
The price increase was set at the level of Retail Price Index inflation, plus one per cent, as the Government has said that the rail industry has received significant public support during the pandemic.
The increase will mean that the cost of an annual ticket from Liverpool to Manchester will go up by £70, to £2,762, while an annual ticket from Whitehaven to Carlisle will increase by £53, to £2,085.
While the number of people using rail travel at the moment has dropped significantly as a result of travel restrictions, there are concerns that the price increase will discourage members of the public from using trains, and lead to greater traffic and congestion on the road.
‘A credible plan’
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has warned that increasing fares for commuters will choke off the recovery in cities and towns.
Head of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, said: “This inflation-busting rise will not help commuters and city centres recover from the pandemic. The government needs a credible plan for the future of rail that gives passengers better value.
“We need the railways back in public hands.”
Director of nations and regions at industry body the Rail Delivery Group, Robert Nisbet, said: “We want the whole country to benefit from a new, more flexible system where people pay-as-they-go and automatically get the best deal at the end of the week or month, similar to London,”
“This would deliver a system which incentivises more people back to the network”.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Passengers returning to the railway deserve punctual and reliable journeys at a fair price. This is the lowest increase in four years - despite unprecedented taxpayer support for the rail industry during the pandemic of around £10bn, and billions more being spent on new infrastructure.”