Millions of commuters will be hit by even more expensive rail fares in England next year.
Regulated fares will rise by up to 5.9% from March 5, 2023, the Department of Transport has announced.
The increase has been “capped well below inflation” amid the cost-of-living crisis, the government said.
It said it is 6.4 percentage points lower than the inflation rate on which rate hikes have historically been based.
But Labor has struck at the ‘savage’ increase, with a watchdog saying ‘it is clear that too many passengers are not getting their money’s worth’.
It follows months of strikes by railway workers on the verge of walking out over Christmas in a protracted dispute over wages and working conditions.
About 45% of all train fares are currently regulated by the price cap.
Regulated fares include season tickets on most commuter travel, some off-peak return tickets on long-haul travel, and anytime tickets in major cities.
Train operators are free to determine them otherwise, although their decisions are heavily influenced by the government due to contracts put in place due to the Covid pandemic.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said today: ‘This is the largest ever government intervention in rail fares.
“I am limiting the increase well below inflation to help mitigate the impact on passengers.
“It has been a difficult year and the impact of inflation has been felt across the UK economy. We don’t want to make the problem worse.
“This is a fair balance between the travelers who use our trains and the taxpayers who pay for them.”
Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh has warned that “this savage rate hike will be a sick joke for millions who depend on crumbling services.”
“People in this country are paying the price for 12 years of Tory failure,” she added.
David Sidebottom, director of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘No one likes rising prices. Our latest research shows that less than half of travelers believe that rail currently performs well in terms of delivering low-cost tickets.
“After months of unreliable services and strikes, it is clear that too many passengers are not getting their money’s worth.
“Restricting fares below inflation and the extension to March is welcome and will ease some of the pain, but the need to reform fares and ticketing in the longer term should not be forgotten.”
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