The Ongoing Rise of Train Fares

Rail commuters are facing a train fares hike – with the rise pushing the price of the average season ticket above £3,000 for the first time in history.

While train companies are trying their best to make improvements to their transport system to ensure a pleasant journey for their passengers, this has resulted in continual fare increases over the years.

Rail chiefs claim new trains, in particular, are benefiting from having more money spent on meeting passengers’ needs. More leg-room, air conditioning and faster journeys are among the improvements that are being implemented.

Train ticket

© dennizn /


How do passengers feel?

Passengers aren’t happy about the continuous increases and cite train cancellations, overcrowded carriages and late arrivals as among the reasons why they don’t think they should be paying more for rail travel. Some passengers have to stand up for the entire journey because their train is always so crowded.

When railway repairs are costing thousands of pounds, or changes in the weather such as ice or leaves on the line are leading to delays, commuters say they shouldn’t be paying the price. They believe it’s something the rail operators should have planned and budgeted for in advance.

The increase means some commuters will be paying £100 extra for their season ticket. Fares in the UK are already among the highest in Europe, which has led rail campaign groups to suggest commuters will “refuse to pay” if the price hikes carry on.

Unfortunately, for many commuters who rely on rail travel to get to work, they don’t have a choice. The new fares will be implemented on 2nd January 2020.


Who will be paying the most?

An analysis of the fares by the Labour party, comparing ticket prices on 183 train routes across the UK, has revealed commuters will be paying an average of £3,067 for a season ticket next year, compared with the current price of £2,980.

Rail watchdog the Office of Rail and Road said regulated fares had already gone up by an average of 2.8% in January 2019. The impending rise will have a devastating effect on season ticket holders, particularly on some routes.

For example, the season ticket on the Brighton to London route will increase by £125 to £4,581. Gloucester to Birmingham commuters face an increase of £119 to £4,357, while the Barrow-in-Furness to Preston season ticket is going up by £117 to £4,285. Edinburgh to Glasgow commuters face an increase of £114 to £4,198.


Why are increases needed?

Robert Nisbet, spokesman for industry body the Rail Delivery Group, says price increases are necessary to ensure continued investment in rail services. Although he recognised nobody wanted to pay more to go to work, he claimed the government was making sure the income from fares covered the day-to-day costs of running rail services.

He said taxpayers’ money and private sector funding was contributing towards improved rail services in the long term. Admitting they had “more to do” to deliver the reliable service passengers expected, Mr Nisbet said rail passengers nationwide were still reaping the benefits of the investment, including extra services and new trains.

He said the RDG was working with the government to deliver proposals to reform the “outdated” rail system, making fares “easier” for everyone and ensuring they represent better value.


Who’s benefiting from taxpayers’ money?

Many of the train companies are not UK based, with 18 of our 25 rail franchises currently being run by overseas state-backed operators, according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper.

The news came after the Labour party called for Britain’s rail services to be renationalised. In fact, 72% of rail franchises are already state-backed – just not by our state!

The revelation led the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, Manuel Cortes, to claim money being made out of passengers in the UK was being invested in providing fare subsidies overseas.

What are your experiences of rail travel? Are you happy travelling by train in the UK – or do you think it leaves a lot to be desired? Are you disgusted at the rail fare increases, or do you think travelling by train provides value for money?

Share your rail experiences on Psydro’s unique reviews platform.

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