Division over 5.9% increase in regulated rail fares

Regulated rail fares in England will rise by 5.9% from March 5, the Government has confirmed.

The increase is the largest since a 6.2% rise in 2012, but has been capped 6.4 percentage points below July 2022’s Retail Price Index (RPI).

Ministers said they had abandoned the formula used in previous years to closely follow the July RPI rate, owing to “unprecedented levels of inflation”. The Government has instead opted to use July 2022’s average earnings growth figure.

Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper described the move as “the biggest ever government intervention in rail fares” that would help reduce the impact of inflation on passengers.   

He said the increase would also avoid overburdening taxpayers who have subsidised the railways by £31 billion since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh attacked the fares rise as “the price for 12 years of Tory failure”.

She said that fares had risen by 58% since 2010, twice as fast as wages, and that the latest “savage hike will be a sick joke for millions reliant on crumbling services”.

The increase does not affect Transport for Wales services, although changes tend to match those made in England.

The Scottish Government has not yet announced its plans for 2023, although it has said that peak fares on ScotRail services will be suspended in a six-month trial from April, to make rail more affordable (RAIL 973).

To read the full story, see RAIL 974

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