RAIL commuters will have to fork out for above-inflation rises in the cost of their season tickets in the new year.
The full pain of the annual price hike was revealed when the rail industry released details of the new fares for England, Scotland and Wales which will take effect from January 2, 2015.
Although the fare increase for all types of ticket averages 2.2 per cent, season tickets are going up by 2.5 per cent - not only well above the CPI inflation figure but also in excess of most annual pay rises.
Announcing the rise, rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said the money from fares helped maintain the railways, thus benefiting passengers and the economy.
But rail unions condemned the fare rise, while the Campaign for Better Transport called for a stop to ‘consecutive governments deliberately forcing up rail fares.’
The January rise will see some season ticketholders pushed in to the £5,000-a-year price bracket and on many of the busiest towards-London commuter routes, the January 2015 rise is above 2.4 per cent.
The RDG said the average rise for all fares was the lowest for five years.
RDG director general Michael Roberts said: ‘Money from fares goes towards running and maintaining the railway. This benefits not just passengers and businesses but communities across the country, by improving journeys, creating employment and helping to boost the economy.’
But TSSA rail union leader Manuel Cortes said: ‘It is time to stop this annual persecution of passengers with year-on-year hikes in fares. We have seen fares jump by as much as 245 per cent on key routes since privatisation 20 years ago.’
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: ‘The scandal of Britain’s great rail fares rip off is that today’s hike is far outstripping average pay increases and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest.’
Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner for the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘Consecutive governments have deliberately forced up rail fares and it needs to stop.
‘During this parliament, many fares have risen three times faster than wages, affecting all those who rely on trains and putting enormous strain on household budgets.’