Rail fares go up by an average of 3.1% on 2nd January, despite 2018 being one of the worst years ever for punctuality. “After a terrible year of timetable chaos, passengers are being rewarded with yet another kick in the wallet” said Bruce Williamson from the campaign group Railfuture. “Since 2004, rail fares have raced ahead of people’s incomes whilst the cost of motoring has remained static, partly thanks to the government’s continuing freeze on fuel duty. Petrol is now cheaper than it was in 2011, when the last fuel duty increase kicked in. In that time, rail fares have gone up 28%. Are they trying to drive us off the railways? Why are hard-working commuters being punished for the “crime” of trying to get the train to work? It really is war against the train passenger.”
Rail fare increases are based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) rather than the government-preferred Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is usually lower.
“So why not use CPI? It’s a very deliberate policy on the part of the government to make the most expensive walk-on fares in Europe even more expensive year on year. Rail passengers are paying the price for the government’s inability to control industry costs. It’s time that Chris Grayling got a grip: after all, if he’s not the “fat controller”, who is?”
The group has produced some figures comparing the effect of CPI v RPI on rail fares: