Rail fare freeze set to continue

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has confounded widespread media speculation that regulated rail fares would rise by 3.5% from January 2015 (election year), by extending the fare freeze for another 12 months.

The freeze originally took effect in January 2014 following Osborne’s announcement that regulated fares would be capped in line with inflation, and not at RPI (Retail Price Index) plus 1% as has been the case since 2004.

The 2015 fares will not be above the RPI 2.5% rate, which was set in July.

Around half of all rail fares – including most commuter journey season tickets and most intercity off-peak tickets – are regulated by the government.

Osborne has also scrapped the ‘flex’ rules allowing train operating companies to increase individual fares by an additional 2% on some routes, which in some cases has resulted in overall fare increases of 5.5%.

The move has been welcomed by Passenger Focus: “It is something we have been pushing for, for several years now, and we are pleased that the government has recognised the need to act to relieve the burden on passengers,” says Passenger Director, David Sidebottom.

Campaign for Better Transport’s (CBT)Public Transport Campaigner, Martin Abrams, also welcomed the news but added: “Fares need to be held down for the long term while wages catch up, and the inflation formula finally needs to change from the Retail Price Index to the lower, fairer Consumer Price Index to bring it in line with other measures.”

656/Sep 14

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