England, Wales train fares to rise above inflation
London, March 1 (IANS) Millions of train passengers in England and Wales will be hit by higher fares from Monday onwards as fares are expected to rise above inflation for the first time in eight years.
Ticket prices will increase by around 2.6 per cent, leading to accusations that the UK government is “pricing the railways out of existence”, Xinhua news agency quoted the Evening Standard newspaper as saying in a report.
The price hike represents the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation from July 2020, plus 1 percentage point, according to the newspaper.
Increases in around half of fares, including season tickets on most commuter routes, are regulated by the British, Scottish and Welsh governments, media reports said.
Passengers in Wales face a similar increase, whereas the Scottish government is implementing smaller rises of 1.6 per cent and 0.6 per cent for peak and off-peak travel respectively, the report said.
Examples of the potential fare hikes include a Brighton-London annual season ticket going up by 129 pounds ($180) to 5,109 pounds ($7,154) and a Manchester-Glasgow off-peak return increasing by 2.30 pounds ($3) to 90.60 pounds ($126), said the Evening Standard newspaper.
Fare hikes in England have mirrored RPI since January 2014, but the Department for Transport (DfT) axed the policy due to the “unprecedented taxpayer support” handed to the rail industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The British, Scottish and Welsh governments took over rail franchise agreements from train operators in March 2020, following the collapse in demand for travel caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is expected to cost the government alone around 10 billion pounds by mid-2021, said the newspaper.
Fares usually become more expensive on the first working day of every year, but the 2021 rise was deferred due to the pandemic, said the newspaper.