Rail commuters in England facing inflation-busting season ticket increases are being given some respite, as the Government is curbing the amount fares can rise by.
Average regulated fares in England, which include season tickets, increase annually each January in line with July's Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation rate + 1%.
This means in the new year, passengers face rises of 4.1% (see our Cheap Train Tickets guide to cut travel costs).
But the increase is an average figure, and each train company has been able to hike some individual fares by up to 5% above this figure. This means some travellers could have seen price hikes of up to 9.1% from next year.
Now the Department for Transport is capping rail fare rises at 2% above July's RPI + 1% formula. This means that in January, no regulated fare can go up by more than 6.1%.
The cap is part of the Government's fares and ticketing review, which has been published today by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. He says the move could save some commuters as much as £200 a year.
In Scotland, average regulated fares can only rise by July's RPI. The new year fare rise in Wales is yet to be announced.
Save money on train travel
There are a few simple tricks you can use to make sure you're getting the lowest rail costs.
- Buy early. Most train companies put tickets on sale 12 weeks in advance. So book as soon as you can to grab one of the cheaper tickets.
- Get a railcard. If you're eligible for a railcard and travel often enough to justify buying one, you can get a third off many fares and save hundreds of pounds a year.
- Two singles can beat a return. Don't just automatically opt for a return fare and assume it's the cheapest option – check to see if two one-way tickets will save you money.
- Split your ticket. Breaking up a one-way journey into two single tickets with an intermediate station could also save you money. For example, if you're travelling from London to Preston, it may be cheaper to buy one ticket from London Euston to Crewe, and then another from Crewe to Preston. Download our free TicketySplit iPhone app or bookmark the mobile site to work out if you can save.
Additional reporting by the Press Association.