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Rail fares rise across Great Britain from today - here's what it means for ticket prices

Rail passengers in England, Scotland and Wales all face varying increases to fares from today - with most being hit with above inflation price hikes. Below we explain how different tickets will change, although for most, all but essential travel is currently banned under coronavirus lockdown rules.

See our Cheap Train Tickets and Cheap Season Tickets guides for help finding hidden fares and cutting costs. 

How are rail fares in England and Wales changing?

There are two types of rail fare - here's how they're set to change in England and Wales:

  • Regulated fares are rising by 2.6%. This includes season, anytime day, off-peak and super off-peak tickets. These fares are usually capped at the previous July's Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation. But due to the coronavirus crisis, which has seen rail use plummet as many work from home, prices are now going up by July's RPI plus 1%. A review later this year will decide whether rail fares will rise again by up to RPI + 1% in 2022.

  • Unregulated fare increases vary but aren't expected to rise above 2.6%. These include first-class, advance, anytime and off-peak day tickets. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents rail companies, says it can't give an average increase but adds that prices aren't expected to rise above 2.6%.

To give examples of how this will work in practice, a Brighton to London annual season ticket will go up by £128 to £5,108, and a Manchester to Glasgow off-peak return will rise by £2.30 to £90.60.

What about fares in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Rail fares are a devolved matter. Here's what's happening in the rest of the UK:

  • There will be increases of up to 1.6% in Scotland. Here, peak fares will today (1 March) rise by 1.6%, while off-peak fares will increase by 0.6%.

  • We don't yet know the situation in Northern Ireland. Rail fare increases aren't usually linked to RPI in Northern Ireland. Instead they are determined by Translink, the company which runs public transport in Northern Ireland. Translink says: “No decision has yet been taken on a fares revision for 2021”.

What do rail firms and the Government say?

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for the RDG, has called for ticket fares to be made more flexible in order to help passengers save. He said: "Rather than needing a crystal ball to predict your plans to the last minute before buying a ticket, we want the whole country to benefit from a new, more flexible system where people pay-as-they-go and automatically get the best deal at the end of the week or month."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said that this was the lowest rise in four years “despite unprecedented taxpayer support for the rail industry”.

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