If you’re a commuter, then you can forget any notion of a happy new year. Instead, there’s anger at discovering the arrival of 2018 sees fares rising – again.
This time passengers are having to put up with the biggest increase in five years. And for what? To use a service that has been frequently disrupted by industrial action and to travel in ageing trains.
Figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that Britain’s train stock is the oldest since records began, according to Press Association analysis, with passengers typically travelling in carriages built way back in the mid-1990s.
Yet fares are still rising by an average of 3.4 per cent this month, with season tickets going up by 3.6 per cent – increases that outstrip average pay rises last year by 50 per cent, unions have said.
Rail travel is now so costly that commuters on average earnings spend between 10 and 20 per cent of their take-home pay on tickets, the RMT has found.
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, says that in the past eight years the cost of a season ticket from Portsmouth to Southampton has gone up £504 – or 28 per cent.
It is little wonder that unions and campaigners now warn people are being ‘priced off’ our railway network.
People should be encouraged to use public transport to ease congestion and help the environment, but price rises are having the opposite effect.
For some though, there is no choice. They have to continue commuting by train.
Now they discover that in 2016/17 South West Trains passengers paid 16.6p per mile travelled more than the cost of actually running the service. The overpayment totals a whopping £662m.
Is it any wonder they are left feeling like they are being taken advantage of?