MORE rail commuters will be catapulted into the £5,000-a-year season ticket bracket after the 2014 fare rises were revealed today.
Increases of 3.4% take those travelling to London from Dover Priory and Deal in Kent past the £5,000 figure.
And commuters from Basingstoke in Hampshire will join the £4,000 “club” following a 2.93% increase on their season tickets to and from London.
Even the short journey between Leeds and Wakefield will cost nearly £1,000 - a rise of almost three per cent.
The figures were revealed on the rail industry’s National Rail Enquiries website today, with the new fares taking effect from January 2.
An annual season ticket to London from Dover Priory and from Deal goes up from £4,864 to £5,012, while one from Basingstoke rises from £3,960 to £4,076.
Other annual season ticket increases include:
• Folkestone Central to London - up 3.06% to £4,984
• Reading to London - up 3.23% to £4,088
• Sevenoaks to London - up 3.08% to £3,208
• Aylesbury to London - up 2.75% to £3,732
• Bedford to London - up 3.07% to £4,300
• Woking to London - up 2.9% to £2,980
Under a recently-amended formula, train companies are allowed to raise regulated fares, which include season tickets, by no more than an average of 3.1%.
An initial scan of season ticket fares from typical commuting areas to London shows that most rises are around this 3.1% mark, although the formula does allow train companies a 2% “flex”, which means they can put some fares up by 5.1% as long as the overall average is 3.1%.
Some fares which rose sharply for 2013 are not going up by so much in 2014. A season ticket from Ludlow to Hereford rose 5.28% in January 2013 but is going up only 2% in January.
The increase for any January is calculated from the RPI rate of inflation figure for the previous July. In July this year the RPI figure was 3.1%.
Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “Passengers will see season tickets going up three times faster than their wages.
“The Government needs to do more to stop the squeeze on commuters and avoid pricing people off the railways. We need a permanent end to inflation-busting fare rises calculated using an out-of-date formula.
“The Government should stop using RPI to calculate ticket prices. It over-estimates real inflation so consistently that the Office for National Statistics has dropped it as an official measure.
“The Government has already switched to CPI for most things. Doing the same for train fares would have little impact on railway revenues, but it would save passengers money and bring fares into line with things like public sector pensions.”
The announcement of the rise has been delayed this year after Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement earlier this month that the increase formula for regulated fares was changing from RPI plus 1% to RPI plus 0%.
Earlier, the Government announced that the “flex” rule, which originally allowed companies to put up some fares by up to 5% above the RPI plus 1% figure, would be limited to 2% above.
Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: “It’s completely unacceptable that passengers have had to wait until two days before Christmas to find out how much their season tickets will cost in the new year. People deserve timely information to budget effectively.
“Rail fares have risen 20% under this Government. David Cameron is doing nothing to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Labour would remove the flex and put a tough cap on rail fares.”
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “The Government understands concerns rail passengers have about the costs of fares and the impact they have on household budgets. That is why next year, for the first time in a decade, regulated fares will not rise on average by more than the rate of inflation, offering relief for families and the hardworking people.
“As well as protecting regulated fares, the Government is driving forward the biggest programme of rail modernisation programmes ever, with £38 billion being invested over the next five years.
“That means new state-of-the-art trains, better stations and hundreds of miles of electrified track which will help cut journey times, provide better connections and stimulate growth across the country.”
Here are more examples of season ticket rises for January 2014:
• Canterbury to London - up 3.07% to £4,960;
• Leeds to Wakefield - up 2.9% to £992;
• West Malling in Kent to London - up 3.1% to £3,996;
• Guildford to London - up 2.98% to £3,320;
• Morpeth to Newcastle - up 3.17% to £1,040;
• Tunbridge Wells to London - up 3.1% to £4,260.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said. “Just as the private train companies are closing down services due to adverse weather, they are publishing fare increases which massively outstrip wages and which will once again hit low to medium earners where it hurts. The great private rail rip-off continues.
“Today’s disruption to services is worsened by a billion-pound backlog on essential maintenance and cuts to staffing which leave Britain’s railways constantly on the edge. Meanwhile, the train operators are draining out cash through profiteering and exploitation of passengers and that’s money that could be invested in infrastructure and capacity.”
He went on: “The link between privatisation, high fares and the repeated disruption to services could not be clearer. Public ownership is the only solution to this outrageous racketeering that forces the British people to pay the highest fares in Europe to travel on overcrowded and unreliable services.”
Rail companies are also announcing today the new 2014 prices for their unregulated fares which typically are the off-peak, leisure fares.
The East Coast company gave details of their fare rises last week. While its season ticket increases will average 3.1%, its unregulated-fare rise will be only 0.83% on average.