Archive for the ‘Fares’ Category


Average fares set to rise 1.1% in January

December 5, 2015

The annual fare increase has been announced and – linked to the historically low inflation rate – the average rise in regulated fares will be 1.1% this year.

As the name suggests, unregulated fares – such as special offers and cheap advance tickets – are completely under the control of train operators so they could rise by considerably more (or not at all ?!)

The increase takes effect from Jan 2nd, so passengers with long-term season tickets can save money by renewing at the current price before Jan 2nd.


Sign the Petition Against Northern Fare Hikes

August 23, 2014

The Campaign for Better Transport are running an on-line petition against scrapping of Cheap Evening fares in Greater Manchester and introduction of higher fares for afternoon/evening services.

If you object to the changes please take a minute to sign the petition here.


Steep rises in evening ticket prices ahead

August 16, 2014

Northern Rail have responded to Government pressure to increase revenue by raising fares for afternoon/evening journeys.

From September 8th passengers will need to buy more expensive “Anytime” tickets to travel in Greater Manchester between 16.01 and 18.29. The restrictions apply to all travel – not just the direction of peak flow – and also extend beyond the Greater Manchester boundary to a confusing selection of other routes.

At Walkden we are perhaps fortunate that the popular 18.30 service into Manchester leaves just one minute after the new “peak” time so still remains eligible for off-peak tickets.

However, if you make an evening trip into Manchester from Walkden on the 16.29, 16.49, 17.29 or 17.52 services you will need to buy a £6.80 Anytime Return after Sept. 8th, a 76% increase over the £3.90 Off Peak return.

For passengers returning to Walkden after a day in Manchester, the 16.14, 16.46, 17.17, 17.47, and 18.14 departures from Victoria will all be unusable unless you buy an Anytime ticket.

To add to travellers’ misery, the popular Cheap Evening Return tickets will also scrapped doubling the evening return fare from Walkden to Manchester from £1.95 to £3.90 – so much for the government wanting to encourage people off the roads !

The move is bound to be deeply unpopular with passengers who have faced above-inflation fare increases for many years, and has drawn criticism from consumer protection groups like Passenger Focus and Travel Watch NorthWest.

As well as hitting people’s wallets the changes seems sure to introduce more yet confusion and difficulty for Northern’s front-line staff who will have the unenviable job of enforcing the increases.

The question should also be asked whether the move will even achieve its objective as on many routes (Walkden to Manchester included) bus services are available that will offer a more frequent and – after these price rises – cheaper alternative .


“Two Together” railcard launches Monday

March 1, 2014

A new type of national railcard will be launched on Monday 3rd March, offering 33% discounts for two people aged 26-59 making a journey together.

At £30 the card could even repay its annual cost in a single long distance trip.

The main restriction appears to be that it cannot be used for weekday morning peak travel (0430 to 0930), but full terms and conditions will be released when the card is launched.

The two travellers do not have to be a couple or related, meaning it can also be used by friends or work colleagues travelling together.

See the Two Together website on Monday for full details.


2014 fares rises announced

December 24, 2013

The January increases to rail fares from Walkden can now be found on the National Rail Enquiries website Journey Planner – simply enter a date after 1st January for your journey and press Check Fares.

The main commuter fare from Walkden – the Peak Return – is going up 20p to £6.30, that’s a rise of 3.3%. The 1 month season ticket seems to have escaped the worst of the increases, up “just” £1.50 or 1.6%.

Here’s a few of the more common fares from Walkden:

Peak Return to Mcr Off Peak Return to Mcr Peak Single to Mcr Off Peak Single to Mcr 1 Month Season Ticket
Old fare £6.10 £3.80 £4.00 £3.70 £93.00
New fare £6.30 £3.90 £4.10 £3.80 £94.50
increase 3.3% 2.6% 2.5% 2.7% 1.6%

The rises are lower than in some recent years, but 3% is still much higher than the average increase in wages.

If you have a long-term season ticket (3, 6 or 12 months) you may consider renewing on or before Jan 1st to beat the price rise which comes into effect on Jan 2nd.


2014 fare increase capped at Retail Inflation rate

December 7, 2013

Finally a little bit of good news for train travellers – in his statement to the House of Commons on Thursday Chancellor George Osborne announced that this year’s fare increases would be capped at an average of 3.1%, rather than the 4.1% that had been expected. In effect it means fares will go up on Jan 1st by just the rate of retail price inflation instead of the threatened RPI+1 formula.

Government rules will still allow the train companies to raise some fares by upto 5.1%, so long as the average is kept at 3.1%.

Northern’s new fares should be published on the National Rail Enquiries website soon, and we’ll report on the changes to the most popular fares from Walkden on this blog.

If you buy monthly or longer season tickets it’s worth considering whether you can defer the price rise by renewing your pass early (before Jan 1st).


Single fares could be halved … but returns could go up

September 21, 2013

Money and TicketsPress reports suggest the government are considering outlawing the ridiculous practice of making single fares almost as expensive as returns. For example, Off Peak Return to Leeds is £18.20, the single fare to Leeds on the same train is just 10p less !

A small discount to encourage return travel is understandable, but it’s hard to imagine the current structure was ever intended to help give passengers a better choice of tickets.

Regular travellers, weary of government’s ever increasing raids on their wallets, will not be surprised to hear that Whitehall officials are already suggesting Return fares would have to increase to offset the single reduction – as if the returns are only offered so “cheaply” (ho ho !) because singles subsidise them.


More above-inflation rail fares rises on the way

August 17, 2013

This week’s announcement that rail fares will rise next January by an average of 4.1% will be depressingly familiar to Walkden commuters who’ve seen fare rises racing ahead inflation and wages for several years now. As our table below shows, the most popular fares from Walkden (returns to Manchester) have risen by 31% and 43% (peak and off-peak) in just 6 years.


We will have to wait until December to find out exactly how hard this year’s increase will hit people as the 4.1% figure is only an average which rail companies have considerable “wiggle room” to distribute unevenly across their network. As a result we’ve seen fare rises a full 3% lower – and 4% higher – than the national average in the last 3 years.

At least we have been lucky enough to see some significant service improvements over the same period – Sunday trains, the longer and higher platform, electronic displays, modern signalling and the current renovation work at Victoria to name a few. However, we all know that much remains to be done too, with step-free access and larger, more modern trains still out of reach.



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.


Fair Fares Now campaign

January 7, 2012

The new year has seen press coverage of – and protests against – the latest round of fare hikes to hit rail passengers. Here’s a couple of links which may be interesting if you’re trying to cut costs or want to get involved with the protests: