Millions of commuters will have to pay an average of 3.1% more for rail tickets from 2 January. 

The rise, announced by industry body the Rail Delivery Group, follows a year of disruption on some lines.

There had been calls for a price freeze following the chaos caused by the introduction of new timetables in May.

The rise, which is lower than the 3.4% average rise for fares in 2018, means another £100 for a Manchester to Liverpool annual season ticket.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the rail industry gets £10bn a year from passengers, who wanted a reliable railway offering better value for money: “They shouldn’t have to wait any longer for that.”

He advised commuters to buy a season ticket now to get this year’s prices, and to complain when services are disrupted.

Alex Hayman of consumer group Which? said these price rises would only add to passengers’ misery after a year of timetable chaos, with rail punctuality falling to its lowest level in 12 years.

“Value for money needs to be a key part of the upcoming government review and passengers must receive automatic compensation for delays and cancellations,” he said.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claimed the increase showed “a government and rail industry out of touch with passenger concerns”.

What do the unions say?

Unions also took aim at the price hikes, with RMT general secretary Mick Cash calling them “another kick in the teeth for passengers on Britain’s rip-off privatised railways”.

It meant UK passengers will pay the highest fares in Europe. “That is nothing short of a disgrace,” he added.

Transport Salaried Staffs Association general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “A fare freeze would have been appropriate, but once again hard-pressed commuters are being milked like cash cows into paying more money for less.”

What does the rail industry say?

Rail Delivery Group chief executive Paul Plummer admitted that no one wanted to pay more to travel, “especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year”.

“Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy,” he said.

The RDG said train companies will introduce 7,000 new carriages, supporting 6,400 extra services a week by 2021, meaning more seats on more reliable, comfortable and frequent trains.

Fewer than half (45%) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to a survey by watchdog Transport Focus.

via BBC News