08:26 GMT25 January 2020
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    The rail industry says that 98% of the fares which passengers pay goes to operating the railways, while commuter groups say that the overall quality of service the public receive doesn’t justify the fare hikes.

    UK rail fares increased an average of 2.7% starting from 2 January 2020. However, the rail industry says it is the third year in a row that average increases remained below the rate of inflation.

    The average rise in fares range from 0% for the Caledonian Sleeper to 3% for Chiltern Railways. The figure of inflation used by rail operators is the Retail Price Index (RPI), which was at 2.8% in July 2019. But Campaign for Better Transport, a commuter rights group, blasted the increases claiming that the RPI is a “discredited and obsolete statistic” and that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) would be “more appropriate” to use.

    Rail Industry: 98 Pence of Every £1 of Rail Fare Pays For Operations of Trains

    The rail industry’s trade association, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), says that[pdf, p10] the UK government now subsidises the cost of running trains at 30%, compared to 43% from 2010 to 2011. As such the industry depends on fares to “almost completely” cover the costs of the day-to-day running of Britain’s railways.

    The RDG also stated that 98% of rail fares go to operating the railways.

    Transport Watchdog: Less Than Half of Passengers Now Think They Get 'Value for Money' 

    Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said that if the “more appropriate” CPI had been used to set fare increases, regulated fares - including season tickets and standard returns - would have risen by 2.1 per cent today”.

    47% of passengers thought they got value for money for the price of their ticket according to[pdf, p7, 12] the spring 2019 report from industry watchdog, Transport Focus. A figure which appears to have dropped since then:

    ​“We speak to thousands of passengers each year and we know that less than half feel they get value for money. After a year of pretty poor performance in some areas passengers just want a consistent day-to-day service they can rely on and a better chance of getting a seat,” David Sidebottom, director of Transport Focus, said commenting on the fare increase.

    Sidebottom called for passengers to “make their voices heard” by calling on train operators to improve the quality of their services.  

    ​Transport Focus has published a list of UK rail prices which is available here. The Campaign for Better Transport have also produced their own tables showing examples of season ticket costs for people travelling into London terminals and into regional stations.

    On 31 December 2019 the RGD announced that by 2020 1,000 new carriages will be added across the country, with others upgraded. Among the benefits the new and upgraded trains will provide passengers with is live tracking of train times and information about which carriages have the most free seats. The industry say this is part of their overall commitment to add a total of 8,000 new trains by the mid-2020s.


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