The Rail Delivery Group have today announced the cost of rail travel will increase by an average of 3.1% from the 2nd of January.
Suffering Middlesbrough rail commuters will see the cost of travel increase again in the New Year, as the Rail Delivery Group today announced the latest set of national price increases.
The increase, which will see regulated fares rise by an average of 3.1%, means that the cost of a day return from Middlesbrough to Newcastle* (direct) will increase by 30 pence to £11.50.
Travel from Middlesbrough to York* will cost £18.10 from the 2nd of January and an open return to London will now cost £313, a £3 increase.
And for those who travel regularly to the capital, it was confirmed that an annual season ticket from Middlesbrough to London* is set to rise from £18,804 to £19,440, an increase of almost 3.4%.
*All prices quoted are as confirmed by Middlesbrough Railway Station following our enquiries this morning
Money from fares is underpinning Improvements
In a press release from The Rail Delivery Group, Chief Executive Paul Plummer said of the increases:
“Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.
“Money from fare is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy.
“That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country.”
The press release also highlighted this was “the fourth time in the last six years that fares have been held below the previous July’s RPI (Retail Price Index) inflation rate” and that “98p from every £1 spent on fares goes into running the railway.”
However, these comments also come amongst the backdrop of rail fares reportedly increasing faster than wages, and with Middlesbrough commuters having faced regular service disruption on the Northern Line of late, as a continued dispute between the rail operator and RMT Union has resulted in several days of strike action being taken over the last few months.
“A real slap in the face to long suffering rail passengers”
In a tweet following the news of this year’s price increases, Shadow Transport Secretary and MP for Middlesbrough Andy McDonald called the price increase “A real slap in the face to long suffering rail passengers.”
This increase is a real slap in the face to long suffering rail passengers. Given the chaos on our railways since the last price hike, Chris Grayling should be delivering a fares freeze on those appalling services which should be funded by the train operators. https://t.co/Fd32TE6T8f
— Andy McDonald MP (@AndyMcDonaldMP) November 30, 2018
And there was further criticism of the price rises from Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport.
Quoted in The Guardian, he said, “Rail passengers have endured enough this year, with botched timetable changes and delays to their journeys which led to the worst punctuality figures for 12 years.
“The government should introduce a fares freeze from January. Any future fare increases should be based on the consumer price index rather than an outdated and discredited measure of inflation. Rail travel should be affordable so passengers aren’t left struggling with the cost of their commute.”
Middlesbrough rail commuters have their say
Michael, a commuter boarding the 9:32 to Thornaby, was not impressed by news of the price rises:
“It’s just ridiculous, it just keeps going up and up, the service doesn’t merit that kind of increase.”
The level of service offered was also a point of contention for Gary, another regular commuter from Middlesbrough to Thornaby, whose monthly pass costs “around £38 a month.”
“If the prices go up, it’s by like a pound or two. But with the trains running late sometimes and even cancelled…the service is not very good.”
However, TUXtra also talked to Karen and Moira, sisters from New Zealand who were travelling back to New Zealand via London after visiting family in Middlesbrough and whom, whilst realising they might not have a fully informed picture, were very appreciative of Britain’s rail service from their own experience.
“We’re visitors, so we booked ahead to get cheaper fares, but you can see it’s going to be a pain for people to pay a little bit extra if the service isn’t what they want”, reasoned Karen.
But having utilised rail travel over their stay during the last two weeks, Moira was delighted by the ease of travel by train.
“The train system is amazing, they’re actually on time. As a transit from A to B it’s amazing.”
And retired Middlesbrough grandmother Moreen, who was with Karen and Moira to see them depart, said she enjoyed using the local train services to take her grandchildren to Redcar.
“They’re very cheap”, commenting that £4 to Redcar is “excellent.”
Are you a regular rail commuter? What do you think of the latest increases to the cost of rail travel? Feel free to share this post with your thoughts.