Chancellor George Osborne has announced some good news for commuters as he delivered his Autumn Statement today.
The proposed rise in regulated rail fares is to be capped at 6.2% in January 2012, down from the previously announced 8.2%. This means that rises will be at the inflation rate plus 1%, rather than inflation plus 3%. The cap also applies to prices levied by London Underground.
Capping the rail price rises at 6.2% will mean that the double-digit increases of previous years will be avoided, although the annual cost of commuting will still rise considerably for many commuters.
Ease the burden on commuters
Chancellor George Osborne said of the change of heart: ‘Commuters often travel long distances to go to work and bring an income home. Train fares are expensive – and they’re set to go up well above inflation to pay for the much needed investment in new rail and new trains. But RPI plus 3% is too much.
‘The Government will fund a reduction in the increase to RPI plus 1%. This will apply across National Rail regulated fares, across the London Tube and on London Buses. It will help the millions of people who use our trains.’
Not temporary measure
A spokesperson for the Campaign for Better Transport added: ‘We’re delighted that the Government has decided to ease the load on hard-pressed passengers, but rail fares are still a heavy burden, and commuters will face paying hundreds of pounds more for their season tickets in January at a time when they can ill afford it.
‘The decision to limit fare hikes mustn’t just be a temporary measure to soften the Chancellor’s otherwise bad-news statement, but should also apply in 2013 and 2014 as the start of a policy to cut fares and make public transport truly affordable.’
Richard Dilks, analyst at Which?, commented: ‘This return to the previous more modest annual increases will be welcome relief to hard-pressed commuters and rail travellers in general. Given that it partly reverses the previous logic of farepayers picking up more of the large bill for our railways, it puts even more pressure on the sector as a whole to make cost savings and so make our railways cheaper to run.’
Watch the Which? Autumn Statement liveblog again