MSE News

Rail fares in England and Wales to jump by up to 5.9% on 5 March - here's what you need to know

Rail fares in England and Wales will rise by up to 5.9% this week. The increase will come into effect on 5 March. Before the coronavirus pandemic, fare hikes normally came into force in January but in 2021 and 2022 they arrived in March, and that'll also be the case for 2023. 

Annual increases to 'regulated' rail fares, such as season tickets and off-peak tickets, are usually linked to the previous July's retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation, which for 2022 stood at 12.3%. However, last year the Department for Transport (DfT) said rail fares for 2023 would be capped at 5.9%.

Unregulated fares are set by the train companies themselves. The Rail Delivery Group, which represents English rail companies, has confirmed that it expects unregulated fares to rise by up to 5.9% from 5 March. 

In London, Tube and bus fares will also increase by an average of 5.9% across the Transport for London (TfL) network from 5 March.

See our Cheap train tickets and Cheap season tickets guides for help finding hidden fares and cutting costs.

The difference between regulated and unregulated fares

The following table shows which tickets are generally regulated and which aren't:

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

Rail fare rises are calculated differently across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Rail fares are a devolved matter and it's up to Transport Scotland, the Welsh Government and Translink of Northern Ireland to determine fares. Here's how fares are changing this year:

  • Northern Ireland: From 6 March 2023, public transport fares, including bus services, will increase by up to 7%. Rail fares in Northern Ireland aren't linked to RPI. They are instead determined by Translink, the company that runs public transport in Northern Ireland, and have previously been frozen since 2019. 

  • Scotland: Any increase in regulated fares for 2023 is still yet to be confirmed. We're checking what this means for unregulated fares and we will update this story when we know more.

  • Wales: Regulated rail fares will rise by up to 5.9% on 5 March. We're checking what this means for unregulated fares and we will update this story when we know more.

How to cut rail costs

Travelling by train can be expensive, and with costs rising it's important to try to cut costs where you can. Here are just a few ways you can try to save while you travel:

  • Book 12 or more weeks in advance for the cheapest tickets. Most people know if you book early, you can get cheaper train tickets, yet often these vanish quicker than empty seats on a peak-time journey. To ensure a bargain, the key is to start looking for tickets about 12 weeks before you want to travel.
  • Buy a railcard if you spend over £90 a year. Railcards usually cut a third off the bill. You can buy them on the Railcard website and elsewhere, and most cost £30 a year – some you can also get for £70 for three years (£23.33 a year). So if you spend more than £90 a year on trains, a railcard is worth getting.
  • Grab a season ticket if you're a regular traveller. Regular rail users and commuters should consider annual season tickets – National Rail's Season Ticket Calculator is a nifty tool to help you work out the cost.

See our Cheap train tickets guide for more on how you can save.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!