The Ministry of Transport confirmed that the price increase will take effect in March 2023 instead of January
Changes in regulated tariffs, such as B. Season tickets, are traditionally implemented on the first working day of the year and are based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) for last July, which for 2022 will be announced on Wednesday (17 August).
But the Department for Transport (DfT) said next year’s fare hike would be delayed until March and below last month’s RPI readings.
The RPI in June was 11.8% and an increase by that number would add hundreds of pounds to the cost of many annual passes.
The news comes as rail industry bosses and the Aslef union are expected to hold formal talks in the coming days after a strike on Saturday (13 August) paralyzed large parts of Britain’s network.
What did the DfT say?
A DfT spokesman said the increase, which normally comes into effect in January, will be postponed until March to “help struggling households”.
They said: “The government is taking decisive action to reduce the impact of inflation on fares during the cost-of-living crisis and will not increase fares as much as the July RPI figure.”
“We are also deferring the increase again to March 2023 and temporarily freezing fares for passengers to allow them to travel at a lower fare for all of January and February while we continue to take steps to help struggling households.”
It is not yet clear how much smaller the increase will be compared to this RPI number.
On Saturday, around 6,500 train drivers who are members of the Aslef union engaged in a wage dispute with nine railway companies, and further strikes are planned for the coming week.
Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) unions will be out of work on August 18 and 20.
On August 19, London Underground and London bus drivers will also take industrial action.
What did activists say?
Activists have campaigned for the government to scrap the RPI method of calculating annual fare increases.
Paul Tuohy, from the Campaign for Better Transport, told the Daily Mail that even a small hike in fares could discourage large numbers of commuters altogether from rail travel, and called for an urgent fare freeze for 2023.
Earlier this year, the biggest increase in rail fares in almost a decade added more than £100 to the cost of many annual passes.
Commuters have been hit hard by price increases of up to 3.8% in England and Wales.
Wales usually makes similar tariff changes to England, while the Scottish Government has not announced any plans for 2023.
Fares in Northern Ireland are set by operator Translink, which does not use RPI.