National rail fares rise by 4.9% but TfL ticket prices remain unchanged - everything you need to know

Nationally, UK rail passengers will pay a higher price for their tickets as a 4.9% fare increase cap comes into force.
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UK rail passengers will face higher ticket prices as a 4.9% increase cap comes into force.

The Department for Transport announced the cap last December and from Sunday March 3 regulated fares will go up, including most season tickets, travelcards, some off-peak returns and anytime tickets around major cities.

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Currently around 45% of tickets are regulated by the government.

The increase is below the 9% July’s retail price index (RPI) figure on which fare increases are historically based. It was delayed from January when hikes usually come into force.

What about TfL fares?

Sadiq Khan announced in January that he would freeze Transport for London (TfL) fares until March 2025 as part of a £123m investment in the capital's transport services.

The freeze will apply to pay-as-you-go fares for bus, Tube, DLR and tram journeys, and the majority of those fares for London Overground and Elizabeth line trips.

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The mayor previously froze TfL fares between 2016 and 2021 and his office said freezing TfL fares again is "a key part of the mayor's programme to support Londoners through the cost-of-living crisis".

A trial scheme making all Friday Tube fares 'off peak' begisn next week (March 8). It will run for a three-month trial, until May 31, in an effort to "better understand if off-peak fares on a Friday could help drive ridership and boost London’s wider economic recovery" amid the cost-of-living crisis and following the Covid-19 pandemic.

What is the Department for Transport saying?

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “Having met our target of halving inflation across the economy, this is a significant intervention by the government to cap the increase in rail fares below last year’s rise.  

“Changed working patterns after the pandemic means that our railways are still losing money and require significant subsidies, so this rise strikes a balance to keep our railways running, while not overburdening passengers.

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“We remain committed to supporting the rail sector reform outdated working practices to help put it on a sustainable financial footing.”

What are travel watchdogs saying?

London TravelWatch, the capital's travel watchdog, said the increase was "unwelcome" and warned passengers would not be getting value for money.

A TravelWatch spokesperson said: "These new rail fares will see already hard-pressed passengers hit with another unwelcome price hike.

"Reform to rail fares and ticketing could not be more urgent now. Government needs to set out an alternative vision that makes public transport appealing - this includes affordable fares, rolling out contactless payment options, and improving train service punctuality so passengers are getting real value-for-money."

What is the RMT union saying?

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"The government is presiding over the managed decline of the railway, with huge cuts to safety critical infrastructure on the one hand, whilst allowing privatised train operators to pay out huge shareholder dividends with the other," RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said.

"Meanwhile passengers are once again slapped in the face with massive fare increases proving once again what a categorical failure the fragmented privatised system is."

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