Tuesday, August the 16th, marked the day that the Government broke with tradition and announced a further rise in rail fares.
This turned out to be an average 8% rise for commuters. To break this down, during the Spending Review, the Government set the regulated fares increase by 3% plus inflation (based on the RPI) for 3 years from 2012. The subsequent announcement from the Office of National Statistics of 5 per cent RPI means regulated fares will increase by 8 per cent in January, making them 28 per cent higher by 2015.
The RPI The Retail Prices Index is based on a "shopping basket" of goods and services which people typically buy. The list includes basics such as food, electricity bills, clothing and petrol, as well as luxury and leisure goods such as electronic equipment, cinema tickets and restaurant meals.
Each month price collectors (staff working for the Office of National Statistics) obtain about 120,000 prices for 600 specified goods and services. They go to a wide variety of shops in 146 areas of the country. Prices of some items, such as utility bills, newspapers, council tax and rail fares are collected centrally. Because people spend more on some things than others, the index is weighted to ensure that it reflects the importance of various items in the shopping basket.
It looks like your shopping basket is going to become very expensive. It could mean some commuters’ season tickets will pass £5000, enough to buy a small car, or equal to 20% of the average UK salary. Commuters in the South East could see a rise of nearly 13%.
The bite, of course, is that the public perception of the rail network is that no real improvement has happened in the last 20 years and that people are fed up of paying above the odds for a slow, dirty and unreliable service with little increase in quality or standards. Commuters at Tuesday morning’s ‘Fair Fares Now’ protest, were calling for a reinstatement of a pre-privatised British Rail. Whether or not this is a good idea, and opinion is divided, something needs to be done to address the bad press the Rail Network has.
Couple this with the environmental implications of people taking to the roads, and driving business away from the capital we have a serious problem that won’t support austerity.
This is where My Travel Network can make a difference. In partnership with independent watchdogs and the community of commuters we are able to share opinion instantly and feed back to the operators, bringing them to account. You, the Mynet App, and this website will collate the stories of woe and success and gather an accurate national consensus. Regular updates on the worst case travel scenarios and the highest rated stations will paint a picture of the National Rail Network and let our voices be heard. Without a single clipboard.
Sources: Campaign for better Transport, Unison, BBC News, Twitter, Flickr