Commuters face fare rises over inflation

Some rail commuters could face inflation-busting fare rises of 5.6 per cent in the new year, Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned.

He said the Government should adopt Labour’s policy of capping annual rises on every route to take the pressure off travellers when the fares go up in January 2015.

Speaking in Hastings, East Sussex, Mr Miliband said: “David Cameron has failed hard-pressed commuters - who are already struggling due to the cost-of-living crisis - by allowing fares to rise by 20% since he came to power.

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“Commuters here in Hastings travelling into London could see their fares rise by up to £265 to almost £5,000 next year.

“A Labour government would cap annual fares on every route and drive through the biggest reforms of the railways since privatisation.”

Mr Miliband was speaking just days before the announcement of the July 2014 RPI inflation rate on which the January 2015 rise on regulated fares, which include season tickets, will be based.

In his autumn statement of 2013, Chancellor George Osborne announced he was limiting the January 2014 rise to the RPI rate of inflation rather than a figure of RPI plus 1% .

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But train companies were still able use a “flex” rule which allowed them to raise some regulated fares by 2% above inflation as long as their average fare rise did not exceed the RPI figure.

With RPI currently at 2.6%, some fares could go up 5.6% in January 2015 if the Government decides to stick with the RPI plus 1% formula as well as the 2% “flex” rule.

Labour is also keen to review the current rail franchising process as well as legislating to allow a public sector operator to run some lines.

Labour also wants to simplify the fare structures and create a new legal right to the cheapest ticket.