The government has acted with the biggest intervention in its history to ensure rail fare increases for 2023 are capped at 5.9%, 6.4 percentage points lower than RPI figure on which they are historically based.
Fares will officially rise on 5 March 2023 and like last year, the government is freezing them for the entirety of January and February, giving passengers more time to purchase cheaper flexible and season tickets at the existing rate.
Due to unprecedented levels of inflation, the government has, for this year only, aligned the increase to July 2022’s average earnings growth instead of RPI, more than halving the increase facing passengers, ensuring it’s easier on family finances while not overburdening taxpayers who have subsidised the running of the railways to the tune of £31 bilion since the pandemic.
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.
It has been a difficult year and the impact of inflation is 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.
The rail industry is facing serious financial difficulty, which is why trade unions must agree to cost saving reforms. Taxpayers across the country contributed £31 billion to the railways over the course of the pandemic, ensuring stability for staff and avoiding job losses. Next year’s rail fares rightly strike a balance between the needs of rail passengers and taxpayers as we seek a sustainable long-term financial position following the pandemic.
Over the years since privatisation, under both Conservative and Labour governments, regulated rail fares have increased closely in line with inflation, never being more than 1% above or below RPI. This government, however, recognises the wider economic challenges currently passengers and has taken action to link this year’s rate with July 2022’s average earnings growth, instead of RPI, and prevented an increase of 12.3%.