Newbury to London season ticket could break £5k mark
It was announced this week that the retail prices index (RPI) figure for July, which is used to determine how much regulated rail fares are allowed to increase, rose to 3.2 per cent.
The average fare increase for England is calculated by adding 3 per cent to RPI, meaning a train fare hike next year of 6.2 per cent, although some tickets can go up by a further five per cent as long as they are balanced by cuts to other fares.
Passengers will have to wait to find out which fares will be increased, with the final decision taken by train operating companies and the government later this year.
Currently a standard class season ticket from Newbury to London, including a London travelcard, is £4,820, but a 6.2 per cent increase will see this ticket cost £5118.84.
The same season ticket from Hungerford will rise from £4,924 to £5,229.28, while a season ticket from Theale will go up from £4,516 to £4795.92.
Meanwhile, a standard class same day return ticket from Newbury to London, including a London travelcard, during peak hours will rise from £54.60 to £57.98.
From Hungerford the same ticket will go up from £56.50 to £60, and if you are travelling from Theale the price will increase from £45.50 to £48.32.
Spokesman for First Great Western, James Davis has defended the increases, reminding West Berkshire commuters that the Great Western main line, including Newbury, will soon benefit from a £20m upgrade to its signalling.
The line is also due to be electrified from London to Cardiff by 2017.
However spokesman for Thames Valley commuter group Railfuture, Bruce Williamson said: “It’s hard to justify inflation-busting rises. Everyone is hard up at the moment.
“The government backed down on its on its increase on fuel taxation so they have to be fair to train users as well.
“People have often have no choice but to use the train because parking in big cities is a problem, also a train is faster, and not everyone can drive.”
In response, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, Michael Roberts said: “It has been government policy during the past eight years for passengers to pay a larger share of the cost of operating the railways and to focus taxpayers’ money on investing in longer term improvements to the network. Any flexibility train companies have within the rules is to maximise revenue for the government.”
But general secretary for the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, Manuel Cortes accused the government of making the railways a ‘rich man's toy’.
"It is a complete nonsense to say fares have to rise above inflation every year to pay for new rail projects.
"Air travellers don't pay higher taxes to get new runways built and motorists certainly don't pay more for new roads. Why should rail passengers be singled out to pay for new lines?
"This is all about squeezing a captive audience, the commuter, until the pips squeak. It is little more than daylight robbery,” he added.