Inflation figures give hint on rail fare rises

Rail commuters will get an indication this week of just how much their annual season tickets will rise in January 2015, with some fares possibly going up by as much as 5.6 per cent.

Campaigners say fares are rising four times faster than wages and are stressing that commuters in marginal seats could hold the key to next May’s general election.

Tomorrow sees the publication of the RPI inflation figure for July 2014 on which the January 2015 rise for regulated fares, which include season tickets, will be based.

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The current price-rise formula is for regulated fares to rise by the rate of RPI plus one per cent, which could see average fares going up around 3.6 per cent if RPI remains at its June 2014 level of 2.6 per cent.

Train companies also have a “flex” rule which allows them to raise some regulated fares by two per cent above the average as long the overall average remains at the RPI plus one per cent level. This means some fares could go up by around 5.6 per cent in the new year.

In his 2013 Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne announced he was limiting the January 2014 regulated-fare rise to RPI plus nought per cent, while reducing the “flex” rule from five per cent to two per cent. This kept the average increase in regulated fares to 3.1 per cent.

Mr Osborne will now face pressure to make a similar announcement in his 2014 Autumn Statement.

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The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said that fares had gone up 20.4 per cent over the lifetime of this Parliament, with the increase likely to be around 24.7 per cent when the January 2015 rise takes effect.

The CBT said that, in contrast, wages over the last four years had only risen 6.9 per cent.