Biggest rise in rail fares for six years

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RAIL users face the biggest fare increases for six years from next January, amid complaints about value for money and calls for a new capping system.

The hike of 3.6 per cent will add £36 to the cost of an annual season ticket from Wakefield to Leeds, taking the total to £1,048.

A Dewsbury to Huddersfield season ticket will cost £858 next year, up £30, and the cost of Leeds-Bradford travel will increase by £37 to £1,053.

For people travelling between Halifax and Huddersfield the annual cost will be £746, up £26 next year.

The increases apply to “regulated” fares across the country, including many off-peak and standard returns.

They are measured each year by the Retail Prices Index figure for July, which was revealed yesterday.

However, the more widely used measure, the Consumer Prices Index, was unchanged at only 2.6 per cent, and the anomaly prompted calls for the government to use the other measure instead.

David Sidebottom, director of Transport Focus, the independent watchdog, said: “Commuters do not give value for money on their railways a high satisfaction score - just one third according to our latest survey.

“So while performance remains patchy and with pay and wages not keeping pace with inflation, they will feel rightly aggrieved if they are paying much higher rises next January.”

Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets for the consumer group, Which?, called the price hike “a kick in the teeth for the majority of passengers”.

He said: “Commuters are forking out more and more money for their tickets but are still struggling with delays, overcrowding and dirty carriages.”

The TUC also slammed the price rises, saying taxpayers handed £3.2bn to private train companies last year, while the same firms paid £228m in dividends to shareholders.

But Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said: “Rail companies are working together to improve performance now, adding thousands more seats over the next 18 months and, longer term, simplifying fares and ticket buying so that the country has the railway it needs to prosper.”