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Passengers ‘punished’ as rail fares rise by almost 5%

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Cash-strapped train travelers are being hit with reduced fares on the railways, campaigners have warned, as fares in England and Wales have risen by almost 5% despite high levels of cancellations.

Critics say passengers are being ‘punished’ and will be angry at Sunday increases given the “shocking state” of the network, against a backdrop of disruptions caused by railway strikes.

Sky News previously revealed that even before the latest increases came into force, the UK has the most expensive train tickets in Europe.

This issue is likely to be a battleground in the next general election, with Work pledging to return the railroads to public ownership when the contracts expire.

Regulated rail fares in England and Wales have been capped at 4.9%.

These include season tickets for most commutes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance routes, and flexible tickets for travel within major cities.

Train companies set unregulated fares, such as one-way tickets in advance, although their decisions are heavily influenced by the government.

The Scottish Government will increase ScotRail fares by 8.7% from April 1.

Chris Page, who chairs pressure group Railfuture, said: “Why are rail passengers punished year after year with anti-inflationary fare rises?

“No matter that there is a cost of living crisis, no matter that we are facing a climate emergency, the government seems more determined than ever to get us off the railway and onto the roads.”

Learn more:
What it’s like to travel on some of the worst rail routes in the country

Michael Solomon Williams, head of campaigns at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “At a time when we urgently need to encourage people to take the train, the public will be rightly furious to discover that it has become even more expensive .

“We know that people will decide to drive or fly if the train is too expensive. So this is bad news for our personal finances, the economy as a whole and the environment.”

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The UK has the most expensive train tickets in Europe

Labor shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “This fare increase will be difficult for passengers to bear given the shocking state of rail services across the country.

“Since coming to power in 2010, the Conservatives have increased fares almost twice as much as wages, and now passengers are being asked to pay more for less.”

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said last month that the UK government had tried to “share the balance between the UK taxpayer and the payer” over price rises, which he described as ” well below inflation.

Figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show the Westminster administration provided £4.4 billion of funding to rail operators in Britain in the year ending March 2023.

Last July’s retail price index inflation, which is traditionally used to determine annual rate increases, was 9%.

The consumer price index, which is a most commonly used inflation figure, was 6.8% in July 2023 but fell to 4% in January.

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