Are passengers shocked and outraged over the January 2 fares rises? Probably not. More likely just a weary resignation.
It is January and the fares, pretty regardless of performance and investment on individual routes, will again be going up above inflation. So high rises are piled on top of already high fares, fuelled by year after year of above-inflation rises.
Some fares are going up by well above inflation and, despite train companies spreading the pain by limiting season ticket rises on some routes, passengers will still feel this pain. With your season ticket often the second biggest item of monthly spend this will pile the pressure on already hard pressed passengers.
What can be done? Some train companies already offer interest-free ways of spreading the cost over a year. All train companies should do this and promote it.
The Government and industry must work hard to get fares rising by the rate of inflation only – this welcome Government promise must become a reality.
For passengers buying other than season tickets, a good present for New Year would be the outcome of the Government’s review of fares and ticketing producing a massive boost in information both before purchase and on tickets themselves – this might help to start to build more trust in the system.
Even just putting the basic information on restrictions on the ticket itself would reduce confusion and reduce the worry felt by passengers who buy a restricted ticket but struggle to work out which trains they can actually use it on.
With ever-increasing numbers of passengers now pouring around £8bn a year into the industry, surely costs can start to fall? This flow of money, added to government investment, should surely produce innovation, economies of scale and lower borrowing costs?