Commuters return to hike in train prices

COMMUTERS returning to work today have been hit by yet another hike in rail fares, after the average ticket price rose by 5.9 per cent with the new year, sending season tickets rocketing.

The increases will see the average single ticket rise from £5 to £5.30, and season passes for some popular commuter routes rise by hundreds of pounds a year.

Transport trade union RMT’s general secretary Bob Crow called the price hikes “daylight robbery on the tracks” with “fat profits for the train companies while the public pay through the nose”.

Commuters in London will pay on average £3.85 for a ticket (23p per mile) and long-distance travellers can expect to fork out around £21.18 (22p per mile).

The increased ticket prices follow a government announcement in late November that regulated train fares would rise in the new year by an average of the retail price index (RPI) for inflation, marked at five per cent in July 2011, plus one per cent – less than the previously announced figure of three per cent above RPI.

These hikes cover regulated tickets, but train companies can set the remaining fares to reflect market conditions.

The fare increase on Transport for London services levels out at an average of 5.6 per cent, lower than was expected due to an extra £136m secured by mayor Boris Johnson from the government.

The Tube, which carried a record 1.1bn passengers last year, will see its fares climb by an average of six per cent.

Michael Roberts, chief executive of industry body the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: “The long-standing government approach to sustaining rail investment is to cut the contribution from taxpayers and increase the share paid for by passengers.”