Rail Passenger Fares To Rise By 3.5% In 2015
Rail passengers face a hike of 3.5% in train fares in 2015 amid anger over the high cost of train travel.
Campaigners have been protesting at 45 train stations across the country over ticket price increases far outstripping wage rises.
The fare rise is determined by adding 1% to the just-published Retail Prices Index inflation figure for July, which is 2.5%.
But train companies have a "flex" option to add another 2% to some fares, as long as the overall average stays at RPI plus 1%.
It means some fares could go up by 5.5%.
Campaigners say the hike will mean fares have leapt by almost a quarter since the coalition came to power, while over the same period wages have risen by 6.9%.
It has already led to calls for the Government to again cap the increase to just the RPI figure as it did last year.
Kevin Rowan of the TUC said it was bad news for passengers, and claimed the fare hikes were going towards the profits and shareholder dividends of the private train operators.
Labour has also condemned the rise, with Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh saying: "David Cameron has allowed train companies to sting passengers with inflation-busting fare rises of over 20% since 2010, costing them hundreds of pounds. We can't go on like this."
But Transport Minister Claire Perry defended the rises arguing there had been an "unprecedented investment" in the rail service.
She told Sky News: "The challenge is making sure fares are fair."
David Sidebottom, director of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said many travellers would be concerned about the fare rise.
He said: "This level of fare increase puts more pressure on the railways to ensure passengers get an excellent service for the money they are paying.
"We hope the Government will step in again as it did last year, to ensure that train fares in England do not rise above the rate of inflation announced today."
The transport charity Sustrans said: "Last year the Chancellor showed he understood the negative impact of high rail costs on the economy by holding fares to an inflation-only increase. He needs to take action again this year."