Today sees another hike in regulated rail fares with an average increase of 3.1% and the largest rise since 2013. The consequence being that some long distance rail commuters will see their costs of getting to work go up by more than £100! Where is the justification for this? Do passengers ever benefit from rail fare increases?
Despite previous price rises which supposedly were implemented to improve rail infrastructure and help boost the economy, an increasing number of passengers are still dissatisfied with the quality of service provided and do not feel they are getting value for money. In the summer of 2018 train punctuality slumped to a 12 year low and passengers are still subjected to delays and cancellations on a daily basis with passengers frequently experiencing dire journeys in overcrowded and poorly maintained carriages. It is worth mentioning at this point that some train companies are guiltier of the above than others and from my own personal experience I have had little to grumble about when traveling with First Great Western or Virgin unlike CrossCountry trains who have fallen short on numerous occasions and provided good reason for complaint.
However this year’s rise remains the latest slap in the face for rail passengers. The May chaos when new timetables were introduced did nothing to inspire confidence in the network and with rail fare increases continually outstripping average wage rises, is it not time to give the commuter a break and freeze the fares?
If you feel that the service you receive is below the standard expected then you might be entitled to claim for a full or partial refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as you have paid for a service and this ‘must be provided with reasonable care and skill.’ Passengers can also use the new Dispute Resolution Ombudsman set up in November if they are unhappy with the final response from any train operator or if the complaint has not been resolved within 40 days.
Claims following disappointing service should not be necessary but with reports of over half a million complaints made to rail firms every year, there are clearly still a lot of issues which train companies need to address and no doubt a very long way to go before passengers will think any increase in fare will benefit them in the slightest.
Have you been affected by the rail fare increases today? Would you like to see a future freeze in fares? Please let me know in the comments.
This is what some local commuters had to say about the increase in rail fares.
“I did used to catch the train to Bristol and one of the major deciding factors in my decision to put the miles on the car was the increased cost of car parking charges and the rail fares.” Adam Lea, Cheltenham.
“We have the MOST EXPENSIVE rail network in Europe and the MOST EXPENSIVE fares in Europe along with half the country’s fleet currently too old and not fit enough for routes they do………
Something has to give for the commuter. Why should we pay extortionate fares when the service we get is often far from it? Unions striking don’t help the cause either.” Matt Willis, Cheltenham.