Train fares in Britain will go up by an average of 3.4% from 2 January, the rail industry has announced.
The increase, the biggest since 2013, covers regulated fares, which includes season tickets, and unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets.
The rise in regulated fares had already been capped at July’s Retail Prices Index inflation rate of 3.6%.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus compared the news to “a chill wind” for customers.
Chief executive Anthony Smith said: “While substantial, welcome investment in new trains and improved track and signals is continuing, passengers are still seeing the basic promises made by the rail industry broken on too many days.”
One in nine trains (12%) have arrived late at their destinations in the past 12 months.
Paul Plummer, Rail Delivery Group chief executive, told the BBC’s Today programme: “We are very aware of the pressures on people and the state of the economy and are making sure everything we do is looking to improve and change and make the best use of that money.”
Mr Plummer admitted it was “a significant increase” – the highest since fares rose by 3.9% in January 2013.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union described the fare rise as “another kick in the teeth” for passengers.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “For public sector workers and many others in our communities who have had their pay and benefits capped or frozen by this government, these fare increases are another twist of the economic knife.
“The private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”
Analysis: Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent
You might think that popularity is a good thing, but it’s causing the railways some problems.
Here’s some examples. Passenger numbers on routes into King’s Cross have rocketed by 70% in the past 14 years. On Southern trains, passenger numbers coming into London have doubled in 12 years.
That’s got to be good for easing congestion and reducing vehicle pollution… but much of our rail network is still Victorian and it’s buckling under the strain of all those extra people.
There is a push to bring in new trains, stations and better lines, but it’s difficult to upgrade things while keeping them open and it’s seriously expensive.
The money’s got to come from somewhere and in recent years it’s the fare payer that’s been asked to pick up a bigger proportion of the tab.
It means that, year in and year out, many people have seen their season ticket go up much more than their salary, if they’ve had a salary rise at all.
The Rail Delivery Group said that more than 97% of money from fares goes back into improving and running the railway.
It added that in the next 18 months, services around the country will be improved with more trains and better services and stations.
Routes to benefit include Crossrail, Thameslink, Edinburgh to Glasgow, Great Western and Waterloo and the South West while there will also be upgrades in the Midlands and the North.
Recent annual fare rises
- January 2013 – 3.9%
- January 2014 – 2.8%
- January 2015 – 2.2%
- January 2016 – 1.1%
- January 2017 – 2.3%
Source by BBC