Travellers and commuters were hit with increased rail fares on Thursday as price hikes came into affect. The average rise was 2.8%, but some journeys may increase by as much as 5.1%.
The average increase is the lowest seen in four years due to chancellor George Osborne linking fares to July’s Retail Price Index inflation rate in the autumn statement. This meant train companies could not increase their average fare by more than 3.1%.
Speaking about the price increases, Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, which speaks on behalf of the rail industry, said, “We strongly support the government’s decision to limit the average increase in season ticket prices this year.
“To help the government hold down fares in future, the rail industry is working hard to get more for every pound it spends.”
Despite capping the amount fares could increase by the rise has still been criticised as it outstrips growth in wages. Union TUC warned that commuters could be spending over three times more of their salary on rail travel than passengers on publicly owned railways in France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Francis O’Grady, general secretary of TUC, said, “Rail passengers and taxpayers are being poorly served by a privatised rail service that has failed to deliver any of the efficiency, investment and cost savings privatisation cheerleaders promised.
“While the shareholders of the private train operating companies are doing well on the back of massive public subsidies, passengers are paying the highest share of their wages on rail fares in Europe.”
RMT general secretary Bob Crow echoed this sentiment, adding that 2014 is set to be another year of “racketeering and greed on Britain’s privatised railways.”