Economists blast “anachronistic system” system of setting rail fares as ticket prices set to rise

Oliver Gill
Follow Oliver
Holidaymakers At King's Cross
Rail fares will rise by an average of 1.9 per cent next year (Source: Getty)

More misery was piled on to beleaguered commuters yesterday as a hike in rail fares was unveiled.

Fares will rise by an average of 1.9 per cent next year following the release of July’s retail price index (RPI), against which fare increases are pegged. RPI rose from 1.6 per cent.

The jump in fares comes as rail workers across the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) voted for further strike action on Southern over ticket office closures. The RMT union confirmed a 70 per cent vote in favour of action.

Politicians from across the political spectrum joined forces to attack the price increase and called for the government to intervene.

“There is an understandable government policy [on fares], however when it comes to Southern there should be an exception. Fares should be going down not up,” said top Tory MP Crispin Blunt.

Read more: Southern discomfort: Train service's punctuality plunges to 70 per cent

Fellow Conservative MP Tim Loughton said increases were “completely untenable in [the] current chaos”.

Labour’s London Assembly transport spokesperson, Florence Eshalomi said that the proposed increase would “come as a slap in the face for rail passengers”.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC said the “anachronistic system” of setting rail fares by RPI will “be bad news for hard-pressed rail commuters”.

Meanwhile, the RMT said it has suspended strike action on Virgin Trains East Coast that was set for the bank holiday weekend.

Related articles