Governments rightly influence the level of rail fares

The vast majority of funding for the railway comes from two sources – passengers and taxpayers.

Given rail is a vital public service, politicians rightly determine the balance between these two groups.

Over time, successive governments have decided that the money raised from farepayers, rather than taxpayers, should cover as much as possible of the cost of running the railway day-to-day.

This means fares have gone up with passengers paying more, keeping taxpayer support down.

Governments directly influence changes to around 45% of fares which are regulated, including season tickets. The rest are heavily influenced by the payments train companies make to government.

Balance of financials


Our railway receives less public funding than almost any other major European railway – meaning passengers pay more of the cost of running trains. This frees up government funding for investment back into the railway.

Rail fares in Great Britain increased by 2.9% in January 2018 compared with a 3.6% rise in the Retail Prices Index (RPI). This was the fourth time in the last five years that fares have risen below inflation.

We always want to give customers a better deal and would support any decision by government to move to the CPI measure of inflation for regulated fares. We will be working with the Government to develop proposals as part of the Williams Review to improve efficiency, making it easier in future to balance fares levels with industry costs such as keeping the trains running and maintaining investment in the rail network while also making sure that our hardworking staff are paid fairly.

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