Towards the end of the year, the Government announced that it was curbing the rail industry’s power to increase fares.
The last Labour government introduced something called ‘flex’. Under this system, train companies could raise fares on specific routes by considerably more than the maximum increase in average fares. This meant that fares got cut on commuter routes with few passengers and went up on the more popular ones.
From now on, the ability of train operators to do this is being limited just two per cent and average fares won’t be allowed to increase by more than inflation. Taken together, these two changes will prevent the large rises that we’ve seen in the past.
Of course, this won’t cut fares, just stop them increasing by more than inflation. But if we want more frequent, longer trains to reduce overcrowding, we have to pay for the necessary investment. This policy strikes the right balance between improving the network and protecting hard-pressed commuters from big increases in fares.