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Rail fares are set to get even more expensive, and that's not good enough

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Warning: if you don’t like to read terrible news of major ticket hikes on national railways then look away now.

As of January, regulated rail fares will go up by 1.9 per cent. Just the latest hammer blow for UK commuters and travellers feeling the pinch of train travel across the land.

The rise, determined by the Retail Prices Index inflation measure, comes as research by trade unions suggesting rail fares have increased at double the speed of wages since 2010.

Report by the Trade Union Congress and the Action for Rail campaign found that on average fares have risen by 25 per cent in the past six years - a figure at odds with the 12 per cent average weekly earnings have gone up by in the same time, and one that could potentially fuel calls for all rail services to be nationalised.

But of course we all know what will happen in the meantime: criticism will be levelled at local MPs, who’ll take this to Whitehall, lots of shouting will occur, and like clockwork - or rather a cancelled service on Southern rail – industry bosses will respond that the bulk of the money is reinvested to improve the network (‘£50bn’ at the last count…).

We’ve had one already: Paul Plummer, chief executive at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said of the news: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel to work and at the moment in some areas people aren’t getting the service they are paying for, and we know how frustrating that is.

“But increases to season tickets are set by Government. For every pound paid in fares, 97p goes back into running and improving services and it’s our job to make sure that money is spent well.”

The TUC’s general secretary Frances O'Grady has already said that rail passengers are "paying more and getting even less", so as much as Plummer might hope for public sympathy, he won’t get any. While half of rail fares in the UK are regulated, including annual and season fares, unregulated fares such as off-peak tickets can be raised as much as the companies jolly well like.

And what about the figure of 1.9 per cent, the new price hike? Similar to how Curry’s might advertise a microwave oven as £99 as opposed to £100, these fat cats are practically saying they want to raise fare by two per cent but are too afraid to ask.

It’s almost as though major private train companies don’t care about the regular folk anymore, that their overall end game involves carriages made out of solid gold whizzing through our towns and cities at speeds of up to 200mph with nobody onboard, leaving us all to Megabus it.

To be fair at least those are on time.

[Images: Rex]

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