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Train passengers hit by largest fare hikes in nine years

Image credit: Dreamstime

Britain’s train passengers will be hit with the largest fare rises in nearly a decade next year after the government confirmed its intentions today.

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced that ticket prices will rise by 3.8 per cent from 1 March 2022. The confirmation comes just one day after transport secretary Grant Shapps refused to rule out the rumoured 'brutal' increase when challenged by Labour in the House of Commons.

The increase of 3.8 per cent is in line with July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, below the current inflation rate of 7.1 per cent, the department said.

Even at 3.8 per cent, the price hike will still be the steepest increase since January 2013, according to figures from industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

This year’s rise in fares in England and Wales was based on the previous July’s RPI plus one percentage point. The Scottish government imposed smaller rises for some journeys. It has not announced its plan for 2022.

Increases are normally implemented on the first working day of every year, but have been delayed until March since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Capping rail fares in line with inflation while tying it to the July RPI strikes a fair balance, ensuring we can continue to invest record amounts into a more modern, reliable railway, ease the burden on taxpayers, and protect passengers from the highest RPI in years.

“Delaying the changes until March 2022 offers people the chance to save money by renewing their fares at last year’s price. That includes the 100,000 people who are already making savings with cheaper and more convenient flexible season tickets.”

The DfT also announced that the 'Book with Confidence' scheme will be extended until 31 March 2022. This allows passengers to change their travel plans up until the night before departure, without being charged a fee, or cancel their tickets and receive a refund in the form of rail vouchers.

Andy Bagnall, director general of the RDG, said: “The government’s decision to hold fares down in line with July’s inflation is welcome compared to last year’s above-inflation increase and the rate of inflation right now.

“It is important that fares are set at a level that will encourage more people to travel by train in the future, helping to support a clean and fair recovery from the pandemic.

“We know the railway must not take more than its fair share from the taxpayer, which is why the rail industry is working to create a financially sustainable and more passenger-focused service that will both keep costs down long-term and attract people back to the train.”

Fares for rail services in Northern Ireland are set by state-owned operator Translink, which does not use RPI.

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