MSE News

Commuter rail fares to increase by up to 2.8% next year

Commuters across Great Britain will see train season ticket costs rise by up to 2.8% from next year.

The January price increase of regulated fares is capped at the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation over the year to July, meaning these fares will rise by up to 2.8% next year.

The rise applies to regulated tickets, which equates to 45% of all tickets and includes season tickets. Unregulated fare increases, including advance tickets, are set by train companies.

Last year, the rise was capped at 3.2% (using the July 2018 RPI rate).

Which fares are regulated?

The following table shows which tickets are generally regulated (and so affected by today's announcement) and which aren't, according to the Office of Rail and Road. It warns there are some exceptions.

Regulated Unregulated
Season Tickets First Class 
Anytime Day Advance
Off-Peak Anytime
Super Off-Peak Off-Peak Day

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, as July's RPI isn't used to calculate price changes in Northern Ireland.

  • 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 2.8% from January 2019, while regulated off-peak fares will rise up to 1.8% under the formula RPI minus 1%.

  • Wales: Regulated fare increases will be capped at the 2.8% RPI rate.

Save money on train fares

Here are our top tips to help you resist rising rail costs – see our Cheap Train Tickets and Cheaper Train Season Tickets guides for more help:

  • Check if you can use a railcard on your commute. We found some could save £100s by using their railcard on daily tickets rather than a season ticket.

  • Consider season ticket 'stoozing'. If you get a season ticket loan, check if you can stash the cash in a savings account for a year, or bag cashback using a credit card. See season ticket stoozing for full info.

  • 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 the intermediate station. Use a free split ticketing tool to find out if you can get a cheaper walk-on single fare by breaking down your journey.

  • Buy in advance. Most train companies put tickets on sale about 12 weeks ahead. So the earlier you book, the more chance you have of getting one of their cheap advance tickets.

  • Singles can beat returns. If you're booking a return journey, check if two singles are cheaper. It may not always be the case, but it's worth a try.

  • Get a railcard. Frequent travellers should consider a railcard if they qualify for one. Those aged 16-25, 26-30, the over-60s, those with disabilities and adults who travel with kids may all qualify. Most railcards cost £30 a year (£20 for disabled persons) and get the holder a third off many fares. See our Cheap Trains guide and Railcard Deals page for full info.

  • 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.

'Commuters will be angered'

Megan French, assistant news and features editor at, said: "Commuters, especially, will be understandably angered by yet another hike in the cost of getting to work. For many, this price rise is unavoidable – though you can and should make full use of the Delay Repay scheme to get cash back for delays and cancellations.

"Some can still make savings on their regular train travel by thinking outside the box – for example, check if you can save by combining a railcard with daily tickets rather than using a season ticket, or see if 'split tickets' are available for your route. If your employer allows you to work flexibly or you can travel at different times of the day, you could see whether it's cheaper to swap your season ticket for other types, such as prepaid carnet tickets."

What does the Rail Delivery Group say?

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for the Rail Delivery Group, said: "No one wants to pay more to get to work but by holding rises down to no more than inflation, the Government is ensuring that money from fares continues to cover almost all of the day-to-day costs of running rail services. This means private sector and taxpayer money can go towards improving services for the long term.

"We know we have more to do to deliver the reliable services passengers expect, but rail users are already seeing and feeling the benefits of this investment with new trains and more services running across the country.

"People also want simpler, better-value fares and we want to work with the Government to deliver our proposals for reforming today's outdated system to make fares easier for all."

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