Starting on 2 January, train fares in much of Britain will rise. The average increase in cost is 2.3 percent, as reported by the BBC. The changes to regulated fares cap at 1.9 percent. But unregulated fares are not subject to a cap and can be raised as much as necessary.
This leaves many Britons facing higher costs for activities including daily commutes and leisure travel. And, as prices rise, customers often expect increased punctuality and reliability in turn. However, there is not guarantee the timeliness of service will change.
In fact, 84,000 Southern Rail passengers will receive for service disruptions in 2016. Season ticket holders can claim a month’s compensation while other customers must demonstrate at least 12 weeks of travel within the time covered from 24 April to 31 December of this year. Beginning 11 December, Southern Rail passengers will receive compensation for any train that is over 15 minutes late.
Reasons for the Increase
You can attribute the increase to two main factors. First, the demand for rail services outpaced expectations. That means more maintenance and repairs are needed, as well as service upgrades. The second major cause reflects changes regarding the division of total network costs. Right now, about 70 percent of the cost is covered by ticket sales. Previously, only 50 percent had to be covered by fares. Taxes cover the rest of the bill.
What this Means for Consumers
Train fares are often a necessary expense, especially when commuting to and from work. In fact, the housing crisis and lack of infrastructure investment have created longer commutes for many workers. As reported by The Guardian in 2015, more than 3 million people commute more than two hours daily.
The housing crisis impacts commuting times as people find it challenging to relocate. Additionally, the financial crisis led many to accept work outside of their immediate area out of sheer desperation. Then, “creaking” infrastructure results in more transit system issues and failures, limiting the number of available services.
Longer commutes are costlier than shorter ones, and low-income workers disproportionately feel the affects of long commutes. Add a price increase, and the low-income traveler takes another hit.
Couple these cost increases with those resulting from a weakening pound, and you stretch many low paid workers to the limit.
How to Prepare
Since the increase is going to happen, begin planning now for the change in cost. This includes examining budgets and making cuts if necessary. Additionally, check into all of your commuting and transportation options both for daily commuting and personal travel. Any reductions you make will help offset the increased fare costs.
Employers are also part of the solution. If your organization offers alternative work schedules or the ability to work-from-home, now is the time to explore these further.
If the upcoming price change is too much to bear, then it is time to look for new job opportunities. While finding a new job isn’t easy, keep your eyes open for options closer to home. Even if something isn’t available right away, new opportunities might be on the horizon. And it never hurts to look for something new that could make your life easier.