Commuters in England could see their season ticket costs rise by up to 1.9% next year, after official figures used to calculate the rise were published.
The Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation over the year to July was 1.9%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced today, while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation was 0.6%, up from 0.5% in the year to June.
This means the price of regulated rail fares will rise by up to 1.9% in January 2017, as under Government rules, train fares can only rise in line with the previous July's RPI.
The potential 1.9% rise from next January only applies to regulated tickets though, which includes season tickets, day single and return tickets around major cities and long distance off-peak return tickets. This accounts for about half of all tickets.
Unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets and first class tickets, are set by the train companies, not the Government.
This year the rise was capped at 1% (using the July 2015 RPI rate) while the year before it was calculated differently - the increase was RPI plus 1%, which worked out at 3.5%.
What about rail fares in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?
Rail fares are a devolved matter in the UK, so here's what's happening elsewhere:
- Northern Ireland: Today's news doesn't affect rail fares in Northern Ireland as it doesn't use July's RPI to calculate price changes. Instead it says it regularly reviews prices and takes a number of factors into consideration when setting fares.
- Scotland: The July RPI figure is used to determine the rate of increase in regulated fares on ScotRail services. So regulated peak fares will increase by up to 1.9% from January 2017, while regulated off-peak fares will rise up to 0.9% under the formula RPI minus 1%
- Wales: The Welsh Government is expected to confirm rail prices for 2017 in the next few weeks.
Save money on train fares
Here are some of our top tips to help you battle rising rail costs – see our Cheap Trains and Season Ticket guides for more:
- Buy in advance. Most train companies put tickets on sale around 12 weeks ahead. So the earlier you book, the more chance you have of getting one of their cheap advance tickets.
- Two singles can beat a return. If you're going on a return journey, check if two singles are cheaper. It may not always be cheaper, but it's worth a try.
- Get a railcard. Frequent travellers should consider a railcard, if they qualify for one. Those aged 16-25, the over-60s, those with disabilities and adults who travel with kids may all qualify. Most railcards cost £30 a year (£20 for a disabled person) and get the holder a third off many fares.
- Split your ticket. Imagine you're travelling from London to Sheffield. If the train stops at Derby, check whether it's cheaper to buy a ticket from London to Derby and a second ticket from Derby to Sheffield. It's perfectly legal as long as the train stops at that intermediate station. Use our free TicketySplit tool to find out if you can get a cheaper walk-on single fare by breaking down your journey.
- Look for hidden promos. Lots of train companies have hidden promotions buried on their websites – which you won't find if you're going through a ticket booking website. For a full list of hidden promos, see our Cheap Train Deals page