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Why do rail fares go up?

PA Media logoPA Media 13/08/2019 By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
Rail fares increase every January (Lauren Hurley/PA) © Lauren Hurley Rail fares increase every January (Lauren Hurley/PA)

The cap on how much regulated rail fares can be increased next year will be confirmed at 9.30am on Wednesday.

The PA news agency looks at nine key questions around the controversial issue:

– Why does the cost of train travel increase every year?

It has been the policy of successive governments to switch the burden of funding the railways from taxpayers to passengers.

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– How much more expensive have train fares become?

a screenshot of a cell phone: (PA Graphics) © Provided by The Press Association (PA Graphics)

A briefing paper published by the House of Commons Library states that between January 1995 – around the time the network was privatised – and last year, average fares increased in real terms by 20%.

– When is the next increase?

Fares become more expensive on January 2 2020.

– Who decides how much they go up by?

Increases in about 45% of fares are regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments. The rest are decided by train companies.

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– Which fares are regulated?

Season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and tickets for travel around major cities at any time.

– How is the cap on the rise in these fares calculated?

Rises are pegged to the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which is announced at 9.30am on Wednesday. This is apart from off-peak regulated fares in Scotland, which can increase by RPI-1%.

– Where does the money go?

The Rail Delivery Group says 98p of every pound spent on train fares is invested back into the railway.

– Is there any way of avoiding the fare rise?

Savvy commuters renew their season tickets in the days before the annual rise.

– Any other tips on limiting the cost of train travel?

Passengers can save money by getting a railcard, travelling off-peak and booking in advance, although these options are not available for many journeys, particularly by commuters.

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