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Regulated rail fares are set to increase by 3.5% on January 1, unless the Government intervenes to ease the burden on passengers in an election year.
As the cost of living continues to rise, the unions and campaigners have launched their strongest attack yet on the Government’s rail fares policy, as it emerged that some tickets could rise by 5.5% (accounting for the flex mechanism reintroduced in 2011).
July’s inflation figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation at 2.5%. The formula for setting rail fares is RPI +1% - this produces the 3.5% increase, although Chancellor George Osborne is under pressure to keep the increase flatlined in line with RPI.
The flex mechanism allows train companies to raise individual fares by 2% above the average, provided the overall average stays at RPI +1%.
Although the cost of two individual journeys on season tickets works out as considerably cheaper than the cost of peak Anytime return tickets, the rise in season ticket costs (see table), particularly in London and the South East, is becoming an increasingly contentious issue.
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