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Rail Fare Hike Takes Effect

Rail TracksMillions of travellers making journeys after the turn of the year have found fares to have risen up to 11%. Rail chiefs are putting more stress on struggling Brits with price hikes above the 5.2% rate of inflation.

Train fares have increased an average 5.9%, but the cost of an annual season ticket between Chester and Crewe has jumped 10.6% compared to ticket prices in January of last year. Llandudno-Bangor annual season tickets have soared the same, while West Yorkshire Metro season tickets for Northern have jumped well over the national average, with passes between Leeds and Wakefield increasing 8.09%. Season tickets between London and Northampton have risen 6.9%, and off-peak return tickets between London and Plymouth, Cardiff and Exeter have jumped over 9%.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) says that the price hikes will help pay for better services. Chief executive Michael Roberts says that the government has been looking to sustain investment in the rail network for several years. They aim to reduce the contribution from taxpayers and increase the contribution made by passengers through rises in prices. The whole industry is focused on continuing to reduce the overall cost of operating the railways in order to limit fare rises in the future and to provide better value for taxpayers’ money.

However, passenger groups say the price hikes are outrageous and passengers should haven’t to continue to support the inefficient, fractured industry. Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith says that travellers will have to dig further into their pockets to pay the 6% and more rises that have been put into effect for rail tickets. These rail fare hikes will make for a tough return to work for commuters, no matter what the weather is like. The inefficiencies of the industry were highlighted in several reports over the course of 2011, he noted.

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Bob Crow says that the rise in rail fares is robbery and won’t do anything other than increase private train operators’ profits. Train companies will be making big profits while the public is paying more for overcrowded services.

Despite this, the price hikes could have been worse. In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne decided to reduce the RPI inflation plus 3% price increase to RPI inflation plus 1%. If he hadn’t done that, the average rail fare would have increased 8%, which means other fares may have jumped up to 14%. However, the government is still planning to implement the RPI inflation formula in the next two Januarys. There have been promises that inflation will fall, which leaves cash-strapped travellers hoping the prediction will come through so fare rises won’t jump this high another two years in a row.




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