TRAIN fares will rise by an average of 1.1% next year, rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has announced.
The RDG said it is the smallest annual increase since January 2010.
Although the 2016 rise for regulated fares is limited to no more than 1% - as it is linked to July’s rate of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation - unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets, can go up by as much as the train companies like.
The average rise for all fares of 1.1% will take effect for journeys from January 2.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “We know that nobody likes to pay more to travel by train, especially to get to work, and at 1.1% this is the smallest average increase in fares for six years.
“On average 97p in every pound from fares is spent on trains, staff and other running costs.
“With passenger numbers doubling in the last 20 years, money from fares now almost covers the railway’s day-to-day operating costs.
“This allows government to focus its funding on building a bigger, better network when the railway is becoming increasingly important at driving economic growth, underpinning jobs, and connecting friends and families.
“As an industry, we are working closer together to deliver better stations, more trains and improved services, and to get more out of every pound we spend.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry claimed the Government was “helping hard-working people with the cost of transport” and said the decision to link regulated fare increases to no more than RPI will save the average season ticket holder £425 by 2020.
She added: “Our plan for passengers is improving journeys for everyone. It’s transforming the tickets people buy, how much they pay for them, the trains they sit on, how quickly they arrive and the stations they arrive in.”
But Martin Abrams, of the Campaign for Better Transport, claimed more work was needed to achieve a “truly affordable railway” as he stated that fares have risen by over 25% in the last five years.
He said: “To avoid pricing people off the railways, the train operating companies and the Government need to work closely together to provide fairer, simpler and cheaper fares through flexible ticketing and making sure people are always sold the cheapest ticket available.”
Mr Abrams insisted it was “simply unfair” that flexible ticketing has not yet been introduced, leading many part-time workers to “fork out for five-day season tickets which don’t give them the same savings that full-time commuters get”.
Commuters with annual season tickets will be able to find out how much the fare will be next year on the National Rail website.
A 12-month pass from Basingstoke to London will cost £4,196 in 2016, up by £40 from £4,156.
Workers travelling from Gloucester to Birmingham will have to pay out £36 more than the 2015 price of £3,860 for a ticket.
Passengers making daily journeys between Liverpool and Manchester will see their season tickets rise by £28, up from £2,960 to £2,988.
One of the longest commutes is from Cheltenham Spa to London. Those on this route will see their annual tickets rising from a January 2015 figure of £9,704 to a January 2016 figure of £9,800 - a 0.99% hike.
David Sidebottom, passenger director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, claimed passengers in England would be relieved that regulated fares are capped at inflation and there is no flexibility for individual ticket prices to go up by more than this.
But he added: “Fares are still going up overall, on the back of years of above-inflation increases.
“Now that passengers are paying more than ever before, it is absolutely critical that industry delivers a more reliable day-to-day railway and starts to offer more flexible ticketing products.”
Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said: “Today’s rail fare hike is yet another kick in the teeth for the British passenger who is already paying some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on clapped out and overcrowded trains.
“With inflation hovering around zero, today’s fare increase is all about ring-fencing and increasing the profit margins of the rip-off private rail companies who, once again, will be laughing all the way to the bank.”