Passengers set to face ‘brutal’ hike in train fares in 2022
Train passengers in Wales are set to see their costs rise as the largest hike in train fares in a decade will be implemented next year
The Welsh Government is said to be “considering the options available to us” as the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a 3.8% increase in fares from 1 March.
According to figures from industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the figure of 3.8%, which is in line with July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, will be the steepest increase since January 2013.
A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We are committed to increasing public transport use in Wales and competitively-priced fares are an important way to do this. We are considering the options available to us.”
A 3.8% rise would lead to hikes in the cost of an annual season ticket from Swansea to Cardiff go up by £72 to £1,960, and a monthly season ticket from Cardiff to London increase by an extra £50.
The DfT says it will not increase fares by the retail price index (RPI) rate plus 1%, as it did in 2021 leading to a rise of 2.6%, and that this increase is below the current retail price inflation of 7.1%.
Prior to the pandemic, fares were raised in January each year by a formula based on the RPI rate of the previous July, 6 months beforehand.
In 2022, the increase will take place in March rather than January, which the DfT say will give passengers more time to purchase cheaper flexible and season tickets at the existing rate.
They added that the Book with Confidence scheme will be extended until March 31, allowing passengers to change their travel plans up until the night before departure, without being charged a fee, or cancel their tickets and receive a refund.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Capping rail fares in line with inflation while tying it to the July RPI strikes a fair balance, ensuring we can continue to invest records amounts into a more modern, reliable railway, ease the burden on taxpayers and protect passengers from the highest RPI in years.
“Delaying the changes until March 2022 offers people the chance to save money by renewing their fares at last year’s price. That includes the 100,000 people who are already making savings with cheaper and more convenient flexible season tickets.”
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh “This brutal Tory fare hike will be a nightmare before Christmas for millions of passengers.
“Families already facing soaring taxes and bills will now be clobbered with an eye-watering rise in the cost of the daily commute.”
With demand for rail travel down by 40% since the start of the pandemic the rail union the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association called the move “staggeringly counter-productive” and said that rail travel should be incentivised.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “This government seems hell bent on discouraging rail travel. This latest fares hike will put yet more people off and price many out of rail travel completely.”