Saturday 30 November 2019 10:04 am

Train companies to hike rail fares as commuters brace for strike chaos

Millions of commuters will have to fork out even more on travel from January as UK train companies hike fares by 2.7 per cent on average.

The increase is below July’s retail price index figure of 2.8 per cent, which is used to calculate rail fares. However, it is above the equivalent consumer price index of 2.1 per cent.

Read more: Christmas travel chaos looms as South Western rail staff prepare to strike

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which announced the rise, said it marked the third year in a row that average price increases have been held below inflation.

However, the changes will mean some commuters will be paying as much as £100 more per year to get to work.

The announcement comes as Londoners brace for a month of chaos on the railways due to strike action over the Christmas period.

The RMT union has confirmed that the 27-day walkout on South Western rail services will go ahead from Monday, causing major disruption on journeys in and out of Waterloo.

Drivers and guards will strike until the New Year, only stopping for a brief period around the General Election on 12 December and for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when trains do not run anyway.

Darren Shirley, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “January’s above-inflation fare rise will no doubt leave passengers dismayed after years of appalling service. 

“With little relief in sight for many from delays, cancellations and overcrowding it will be an inauspicious start to the new year for the railway.”

Rail operators have faced fierce criticism over the use of the retail price index to calculate fare rises, as it is almost always higher than the more widely-used consumer price index.

RDG chief executive Paul Plummer said the increase would help to fund 1,000 extra services per week in 2020.

Read more: Christmas party poopers: South Western railway services to close early in December amid strikes

“The industry will continue to push for changes to fare regulations to enable a better range of affordable, mix-and-match fares and reduced overcrowding on some of the busiest routes.”

RDG said that 98p in every pound spent on fares is invested back into Britain’s rail network.