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Fares set to rocket … again

August 18, 2012

More bad fares news for passengers this week as July’s higher than expected inflation figure means rail fares are set for another hair-raising, inflation-busting rise in January.

Government policy is to raise fares by 3% above the rate of inflation in the preceding July – bad enough at any time but exacerbated when the inflation rate jumps up at just the wrong time.

As a result average fare rises will be a shocking 6.2%, but the reality for most passengers will be even worse as rail companies are allowed to raise some fares at even higher rates provided they balance them against lower increases elsewhere. The experience of the past few years has been that the most popular fares from Walkden get hit by above average rises, so passengers should brace themselves for increases of up to 10% on the most popular tickets.

Watch out for protest campaigns in the autumn as pressure groups try to persuade the Chancellor to relent from the full extent of these rises. We’re unlikely to see fares frozen or even restricted to the rate of inflation, but it may just be possible that the adverse publicity – especially in the Tory heartland of the south-east commuter belt – will force a small climb down.

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