Rail passengers in England, Scotland and Wales will see the average price of train tickets rise by 1.1% in 2016, it was announced today.
The new fares apply to journeys made on or after 2 January 2016. Anyone who books single or return tickets now for travel next year will also pay the revised rates, though season tickets don't go up until the beginning of January. See the Cheap Train Tickets guide for more cost-cutting tips.
The 2016 increase for regulated fares in England and Wales – which includes season tickets, some long-distance off-peak return tickets and anytime tickets around major cities – is capped at 1% using July's RPI rate of inflation. In Scotland, the July RPI figure's used to determine the rate of increase in regulated fares on ScotRail services. See the Train fare cap MSE news story for more on this.
But unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets and first class tickets, are set by train companies, not the Government.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, says fare increases across all ticket types – both regulated and unregulated – in England, Wales and Scotland stand at an average of 1.1%, though individual fares may be higher, lower or stay the same.
For example, a 12-month season ticket from Basingstoke to London will cost £4,196 in 2016, up £40, while those commuting between Liverpool and Manchester will see season tickets rise by £28, up to £2,988. To find out how much you'll pay for a season ticket, use National Rail's Season Ticket Calculator.
Today's fare news doesn't affect passengers in Northern Ireland, as there's no set annual increase there and prices are reviewed throughout the year.
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'Average rise is lowest for six years'
The RDG says the average rise for all fares is the lowest for six years and adds that the money from fares helps maintain the railways.
Chief executive Paul Plummer says: "We know that nobody likes to pay more to travel by train, especially to get to work, and at 1.1% this is the smallest average increase in fares for six years.
"As an industry, we are working closer together to deliver better stations, more trains and improved services, and to get more out of every pound we spend."
However, Martin Abrams from the Campaign for Better Transport says fares in Britain have rocketed by over 25% in the past five years.
He says: "To avoid pricing people off the railways, the train operating companies and the Government need to work closely together to provide fairer, simpler and cheaper fares through flexible ticketing and making sure people are always sold the cheapest ticket available."
How to save money on train fares
To help you save more on rail costs, here are some of our top tips:
- 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.