Rail travel is the only way many people can travel across the country right now, which is why a proposed increase in train ticket prices has sparked outrage.
We can all agree that 2020 has seen a deluge of constant bad news.
To make things even worse, it’s just been announced that train fare prices are set to increase by 1.6% next January, in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation.
People who regularly take the train will know that train prices are already a bit of a headache. In fact, ticket prices already rose by 2.7% at the start of this year (despite fewer than two-thirds of trains being on time in 2019).
Also, as employees are now being encouraged to go back to work, people will be commuting by train again.
That’s why the government is being urged to review and reform the train fare system.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus has led the call for a radical shakeup. It argues that this is not the right way to encourage rail travel, following the slump in people using trains using lockdown.
“The government needs to get train companies to offer a combination of cut-price deals, carnet style ‘bundles’, flexible season tickets for commuters and better value for money fares across the board,” says Anthony Smith, the chief executive of Transport Focus, as told to The Guardian.
“Like the government’s restaurant deal, we need a ‘head out to help out’ campaign to help get the country on the move again, boost the economy and reduce traffic on our roads.”
Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, told The Independent: “Part-time commuters will feel the pinch of this rail fare rise even more acutely, unless flexible season tickets that provide an equivalent discount on full-time ones are available from January.
“The needs of commuters have changed and ensure that the railway meets those needs in an affordable way or else we risk the long-term economic and social costs of permanently diminishing the public transport system.”
So, how are train fare prices actually determined?
Price increases in around half of fares are regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.
Season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets for long-distance journeys, and train tickets in major cities are regulated.
All other train fares are decided by train companies.
And what happens next?
We’ll have to see if the government responds to the national call to review the increase.