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Published on : Saturday, August 13, 2016
Railway passengers are staring at a double blow of strikes and higher ticket prices as ministers prepare to increase train fares.
The Department for Transport is likely to announce the fare hikes this week, at a time of continuing disruption from industrial action on the network. Some routes are expected to see prices rise by £150 for an annual rail pass while the average yearly season ticket is set to cost an extra £40 next year.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT) announced three days of strikes on the Virgin Trains East Coast line later this month, including on Bank Holiday Monday.
The union also staged strikes on Eurostar services and hit passengers in the South-East with strikes on the Southern network in a row over jobs, working conditions and safety.
Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, said “This will go down badly with people who have been facing a terrible level of service on networks such as Southern.
“I think the government is going to have to show that the extra fares are paying for real improvements in the railways, having an impact on all routes, not just a few.”
Rail companies are limited to increasing fares by no more than the inflation figure for July each year on regulated tickets, such as season tickets. The year’s July Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation rate is due to be published on Tuesday and is expected to be around 1.5 per cent.
The rise will take effect from January. While it will be one of the lowest annual increases since the railways were privatised, the timing is likely to anger passengers who have suffered overcrowded trains and disruption.
would see the average cost of an annual season ticket rise by £41 to about £2,777. A yearly ticket on Virgin Trains from Birmingham to London would rise by about £150 to £10,162. The RPI inflation rate has been between 1.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent since the start of the year, suggesting that July’s figure could be in the region of 1.5 per cent.