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Regulated rail fares in England will increase by up to 5.9% from March

Regulated rail fares in England will increase by up to 5.9% from 5 March next year, the Department for Transport has announced.

The increase is being imposed to support “crucial investment and the financial stability” of the railway, the department said.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This is the biggest-ever government intervention in rail fares.

“I’m capping the rise well below inflation to help reduce the impact on passengers.”

Inflation stood at 10.7% in November, under the core consumer prices index measurement, official figures show.

Fares are not being increased in line with inflation, Mr Harper said, because with the impact of higher prices being felt across the UK economy, “we do not want to add to the problem”.

“This is a fair balance between the passengers who use our trains and the taxpayers who help pay for them,” he added.

Regulated fares are overseen by the government following the privatisation of the rails. Most standard and saver return fares and weekly season tickets are regulated fairs.

Season and flexible tickets can be bought in January and February at the current price, ahead of the price hike.

The 5.9% price rise is inline with average earnings growth in July of this year – rather than the retail price index measure of inflation as is customary – to make it “easier on family finances while not overburdening taxpayers”, the department said.

Official figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed average regular pay growth was 6% for the private sector in May to July this year, and 2% for the public sector. Due to inflation the vast majority of workers have suffered a real terms pay cut.

The fair increase has been described as “brutal” by shadow Secretary of State for Transport Louise Haigh.

“This savage fare hike will be a sick joke for millions reliant on crumbling services. People up and down this country are paying the price for twelve years of Tory failure,” she said.

Industrial action has been taking place across the rail network for the past six months as unions seek pay improvements and guarantees over working conditions and jobs.

Speaking about the announcement Clive Wratten, CEO of the British Travel Association said: “The rail fare increases from March 2023 are the latest blow to the business travel sector. People travelling for work have been hammered by strikes, inconsistent timetables and cancelled trains in the run-up to Christmas, this is another grab for their wallets. Whilst it is welcome that the increases are below inflation, it is simply asking the beleaguered traveller to fund inefficiencies across the entire railway network. Domestic travellers deserve better.”

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