Commuters hit

Rail fares in England to rise by 5.9% from March

Rail travel will be more expensive

A 5.9% rise in rail fares in England has sparked an angry backlash as travellers face more cancellations because of the ongoing strike action.

Fares will rise on 5 March and like last year, the Government is freezing them for January and February, giving regular commuters a chance to buy season tickets at the lower price.

Ministers have decided to align the increase to July’s average earnings growth instead of RPI, although it insisted this was for one year only.

The increase is significantly higher than the 3.8% rise last year. The biggest rail fare rise since privatisation in 1996 was in 2011 when they rose by 6.4%. Today’s hike is the biggest since the 6.2% rise in 2012.

Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said: “This brutal Conservative fare hike will be a sick joke for the millions of passengers reliant on crumbling rail services.

“Families already facing soaring taxes and bills, will now be clobbered with a near-record rise in the eye-watering cost of the daily commute.”

Ministers say that taxpayers have subsidised the running of the railways with £31bn since the pandemic.

ScotRail peak fares suspended

Peak fares on ScotRail are to be suspended for six months in a bid to attract passengers back to the trains.

A pilot scheme will begin at some point in 2023/24 and will be subsidised by £15m from the Scottish government’s Budget.

The move will see the cost of some peak hour, or anytime, ScotRail fares nearly halve.

Unions and passenger groups have welcomed the plan as a way of coaxing people back to the railways.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney made the announcement in his Budget statement, saying that removing peak time fares was “a way of making rail travel more affordable and attractive to travellers”.

Full details of the pilot project for the publicly-owned train operator will be announced as part of Transport Scotland’s Fair Fares Review due to be published early next year.

SNP MSP Jackie Dunbar, who sits on Holyrood’s Transport committee, said: “Public transport must be accessible and affordable for those using it.

“This bold action, announced by John Swinney on Thursday, will be a welcome relief to those already worrying about their finances as the Westminster-accelerated cost of living crisis deepens.”

ScotRail and other train operators have still to see passenger numbers return to pre-Covid levels with changes in working patterns resulting in peak time services being less busy.

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