COMMUTERS are furious after it was revealed rail fares will shoot up by an average of 3.1 per cent from January.
Many long-distance commuters will see the annual cost of getting to work rise by as much as £280 when the new fares come in on January 2.
The price hike will affect regulated fares, which includes most annual season tickets, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and flexible Anytime tickets around major cities. Other fares are set by train companies.
About 40 per cent of fares will rise by 3.1 per cent in England and Wales, while in Scotland ticket prices will increase by 2.2 per cent as the Scottish Government has capped them at 1 per cent below inflation.
It means that a commuter with an annual ticket from Swindon to Paddington faces paying £9,020 a year - a rise of £280.
While a Reading to London ticket will be £160 extra a year - a total of £5,168 a year.
The hike is lower than last year's ticket price rise of 3.4 per cent, according to Rail Delivery Group data.
Furious commuters on social media have hit out at the price hike, with some passengers leaving angry notes on the back of train seats in protest.
Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said: "Passengers have suffered horrifically this year from timetable chaos and experienced rail punctuality hitting its lowest level in 12 years and these price hikes will only add to their misery.
"If the rail system is going to start working for passengers, not just train companies, then value for money needs to be a key part of the upcoming Government review and passengers must receive automatic compensation for delays and cancellations."
Anthony Smith, chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus, added: "Many passengers, still reeling from summer timetable chaos and frustrated by 'autumn' disruption, won't believe fares are going up again.
"Until day-to-day reliability returns - with fewer significant delays and cancellations - passenger trust won't begin to recover."
The price hike is 0.1 per cent lower than the predicted 3.2 per cent rise that would be in line with the rate of inflation set in July.
How are train fares calculated?
TRAIN fares are calculated using the RPI rate of inflation measure which is announced in August each year.
- RPI stands for Retail Price Index which is the rate of inflation for July. It is used to determine how much train companies can raise the price of regulated rail fares.
- The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is typically lower than the RPI
- Research by Campaign for Better Transport previously found that replacing RPI rail fare rises with the much more widely used CPI would have helped tackle soaring ticket prices in recent years.
- Around half of regulated train tickets are regulated fares, these include season tickets
Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which announced the hike, said: "Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.
"Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy.
"That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country."
There have been calls for prices to be frozen following chaos caused by new timetables brought in last May.
Fewer than half of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to a survey by watchdog Transport Focus.
Industry body the Rail Delivery Group says profit margins for rail firms are around 2 per cent, with the rest going on running the railway.
The Department for Transport says it is investing in the biggest modernisation of the network since Victorian times, with major projects to provide faster and better trains with more seats.
How to cut the cost of your train tickets now
Here's how you can cut the cost of your train ticket and beat the price rise:
Buy a season ticket, and do it before January 2
If you're making the same journey frequently, for example, your daily commute to work, then you may find that it works out cheaper for you to buy a season ticket.
But remember, you'll need to fork out the initial upfront costs before you benefit from the savings. It's a good idea to buy it before January 2, when ticket prices will rise in England and Wales by 3.2 per cent.
Book in advance
Network Rail releases its new timetable 12 weeks before it starts, so train companies usually make tickets available at this time.
Some operators release them even earlier but the key is to book early. Sign up to Trainline’s ticket alert service to find out when cheap advance fares go on sale for a particular journey you need.
Split your tickets
If you are taking a long train journey, you could save hundreds of pounds by splitting your tickets. A one-way advance ticket from Leeds to Oxford tomorrow costs £99.40.
But split your ticket by travelling from Leeds to Birmingham New Street (£60.10) then from Birmingham New Street to Oxford (£18.50) and you pay £78.60.
You often won’t even need to change trains and National Rail lets you split your ticket as long as the train calls at the stations you buy the tickets for. There are websites to help you do this, the best ones include Splitticketing.co.uk and Mytrainticket.co.uk.
Get a railcard
These can slash a third off the price of some tickets.
They cost between £20 and £30 a year. For example, the 16-25 Railcard gives a third off ticket rates for full-time students of any age. The new 26-30 railcard will also finally be rolled out to everyone in that age bracket from January 2, it was announced today.
Hunt for cheap tickets
Don’t pay over the odds for tickets — and remember to compare prices before you buy. First, check the National Rail website, which is a great way to get an overview of routes and travel times. Then check RedSpottedHanky and Trainline to see if cheap fares are available.
They will usually charge you to make a booking — between 25p and £1.50 — so factor that in.
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Yesterday fat cat union barons were blamed for blocking a cut to rail fares.
Ticket prices currently rise in line with the higher RPI measure of inflation but the Government wants to tweak the rules so they’re rise at the lower CPI rate.
But the RMT union are preventing the change because it would mean wage rises also being linked to the lower rate of inflation.
The Sun revealed last year how RMT’s boss Mick Cash earns more than the Prime Minister - at £150,000 a year.
How much ticket prices have risen by since 2010
HERE is how much rail fare prices have increased by every year since 2010:
January 2010 - 1.1%
January 2011 - 6.2%
January 2012 - 5.9%
January 2013 - 3.9%
January 2014 - 2.8%
January 2015 - 2.2%
January 2016 - 1.1%
January 2017 - 2.3%
January 2018 - 3.4%
January 2019 - 3.1%
One note read: "Your late cancelled, no lights, striking, 2 carriages in rush hour trains aren’t worth the ticket price".
The service on which commuters wrote the notes, from Buxton to Manchester, is consistently hit with delays and cancellations in the morning.
On Twitter, one frustrated commuter said she did not want to pay more for "the privilege of standing on overcrowded trains that are already too expensive".
Critics have slammed the price hike as adding to passengers' misery after new timetables brought in last May caused chaos for thousands of commuters.
James Daley, consumer expert from FairerFinance, said: "Britain already has the highest train fares in Europe for some of the poorest service.
"Most people will be horrified that fares are going up yet again - at a time when satisfaction with train companies is going backwards.
"The fares system desperately needs reform and while the Rail Delivery Group have carried out a consultation, there's been no follow up and no action."