Hard-pressed rail commuters in England, Wales and Scotland face average price increases of 2.2% from 2 January 2015, it's been revealed today.
The 2015 increase for regulated fares in England and Wales – which covers season tickets, anytime single tickets around major cities and off-peak inner-city return tickets – is capped at 2.5% by the Chancellor George Osborne using July's RPI rate of inflation (see the Train Fare Cap MSE News story for more on this).
Unregulated fares in England and Wales, such as off-peak leisure tickets, are set by the train companies, not the Government, while train fares in Scotland can also only rise by up to 2.5%. There are no planned price rises in Northern Ireland.
But the full pain of the annual price hike was revealed by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) today when the rail industry released details of the new fares for England, Scotland and Wales (see our Cheap Train Tickets guide for tips on cutting costs).
The RDG says the fare increases for all ticket types, which will take effect from 2 January 2015, averages 2.2%.
It will see some season ticketholders pushed into the £5,000-a-year price bracket, while those on the long commute from Cheltenham Spa to London will have to fork out £9,704 – a 2.49% hike on the January 2014 figure.
However some season tickets in the north of England are going up by less than 2%, including Leeds to Wakefield, which rises 1.2%, and Morpeth to Newcastle, which increases 1.54%.
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But on many of the busiest towards London commuter routes, the January 2015 rise is above 2.4%. It was also revealed last month that tube fares in London would rise by an average 2.5% next year (see the Tube fares to rise 2.5% next year, but daily usage caps will fall MSE News story).
MoneySavingExpert.com warned passengers to book single and return train journeys yesterday before today's price changes took affect on these types of fare. However you still have until 1 January to buy season tickets at the lower 2014 prices – as long as the season ticket starts before 2 January.
'Lowest rise for five years'
The RDG says the average rise for all fares is the lowest for five years and adds that the money from fares helps maintain the railways.
RDG director general Michael Roberts says: "Money from fares goes towards running and maintaining the railway. This benefits not just passengers and businesses but communities across the country, by improving journeys, creating employment and helping to boost the economy."
But rail unions condemned the fare rise, while the Campaign for Better Transport called for a stop to "consecutive governments deliberately forcing up rail fares".
Save money on train fares
To help you save even more on rail costs, here are some of our top tips (see our Cheap Trains guide for more):
- Buy in advance. Most train companies put tickets on sale 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, couples and adults who travel with kids may all qualify. Most railcards cost £30 a year 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.
Additional reporting by the Press Association.