The current rates of inflation has caused experts to predict that train users will see a large increase of around 8% in the price of season tickets as of January.
The news will be hard to stomach for users of the season ticket policy used by the major train companies, especially those who use the trains as a necessity to get to work on a daily basis. Even more worryingly for some, the predictions are only an average estimate, so the increases realistically could be much higher than the 8% forecasted.
Transport secretary Phillip Hammond insisted that the increases are necessary to fund rail improvements but accepted that the increases would not be a popular decision.
The stats come from the Office of National Statistics’ report on levels on inflation, and when compared to recent information from the National Rail Travel Survey, the two do not amount to happy reading. With an average of 76% of British rail journeys made for commuting or business purposes, the news is unlikely to bring smiles to many faces.
Hammond has cited the huge investments and developments in Rail travel over the coming years as reasons for the rise in ticket prices, including the mammoth Crossrail and Thameslink projects in London. However Hammond has stated that over the coming years the way to sustain the rail system in the UK is to bring prices down, something he says will ‘deliver a fairer deal for the taxpayer and farepayer alike’. The theory goes that by investing in the railways now and making them more efficient, there will be less need in the future for money to be pumped into the railway system.
The moves have unsurprisingly come under much condemnation from Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle, who has claimed that the current government are not in touch with their public and the people who will suffer from these hefty rises.
The general secretary of the transport union TSSA Gerry Doherty has pointed out the vast void between the way that Britain’s railways are run and their equivalents in the rest of Europe. European railways in the main are publicly rather than privately owned, and fares are comparatively far cheaper.
It is hoped by many that the standards and running of the railways in the UK will begin to match those on mainland Europe in the coming years, but deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has pointed out that to do so requires these huge investments that will essentially be funded by both the taxpayer and the farepayer, albeit begrudgingly.