Brace yourselves, commuters, for the moment has arrived.
Regulated rail fares are set to rise by 3.6 per cent next January, after the Office for National Statistics published the latest retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation this morning.
The government links the annual rise in Britain’s regulated fares, which make up nearly half of all tickets, to the July RPI. Train operators are allowed to raise fares by as much as the RPI figure.
The figure announced by the ONS this morning is markedly higher than this year’s 1.9 per cent rise, and the highest increase since the 2011 rise that came into effect in 2012.
Regulated fares include season tickets, as well as standard returns. Unregulated fares, such as super off-peak tickets and advance ones, will be set in December.
To protest fare increases, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is holding protests at stations around the UK. Unions had already warned that prices have risen at twice the pace of wages since 2010.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The huge hike in fares confirmed today is another kick in the teeth for passengers who already fork out colossal sums to travel on rammed out, unreliable trains while the private operators are laughing all the way to the bank."
Meanwhile, Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said: "This price hike will be a kick in the teeth for the majority of passengers who already feel they aren't getting value for money for their train services."
Until 2013, fare rises were reached by adding one percentage point to RPI.
Transport Focus, representing the interests of passengers, has said it would like to see the RPI measure swapped out for the consumer prices index, which is typically lower than RPI.
Chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Colin Stanbridge said: “Our research points to the fact that the cost of transport in London is one of the biggest problems for business when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff, and these rises will only exacerbate the problem.
“Additionally, commuters are already fed up with a poor standard of service on many lines, whether this is due to delays, cancellations and simply overcrowding. If they are being asked to pay what is already a considerable sum, they expect to receive the service they are paying for which is why we have called for Transport for London to take over responsibility for suburban train services into London.”
However, Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said that fare revenue is used to improve rail services.
Money from fares pays to run and improve the railway, making journeys better, boosting the economy, creating skilled jobs and supporting communities across Britain, and politicians set increases to season tickets.
It’s also the case that many major rail industry costs rise directly in line with RPI. Rail companies are working together to improve performance now, adding thousands more seats over the next 18 months and, longer term, simplifying fares and ticket buying so that the country has the railway it needs to prosper.