Politics 2 January 2013 Five questions answered on the annual rail fare rises Risen three times faster than average incomes since 2008. Print HTML Annual rail fare rises take effect today. We answer five questions on the annual commuter price hike. How much have rail fares increased by? On average, fares have increased by 4.2 per cent. Though it varies for different rail operators, overall ticket prices have increased by 3.9 per cent in England, Wales and Scotland. How are rail fare price rises calculated? They are calculated using the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation plus an additional percentage. The additional percentage added to the RPI was reduced in October last year from 3 per cent to 1 per cent by the government making a total of about 4.2 per cent. Any fares that go up more than the average must be balanced by others that rise by less than the average, or that fall. How does the rise in rail fares compare with the rise of people’s income? According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) average train fares have risen nearly three times faster than average incomes since 2008. Which fares have been affected the most? London commuters using the busses, tube, trams and DLR can expect to pay 4.2 per cent more today than yesterday. One steep rise is an unregulated return between Birmingham and London which went up by 10 per cent, although this actually only adds £2.50 to the fare. An off-peak day return between Bristol and St Austell in Cornwall is now £75.60 - a rise of 40 per cent - from £53.10. Although, some tickets have only risen by as little as 2.3 per cent with one ticket from Shenfield, Essex, to London now £16 cheaper, after a 0.6 per cent drop. What have the TUC said? Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC and chairwoman of Action for Rail, told the BBC: "At a time when real wages are falling and household budgets are being squeezed, rail travellers are being forced to endure yet another year of inflation-busting fare increases. "As well as having to shell out record amounts of money for their tickets, passengers also face the prospect of travelling on trains with fewer staff and having less access to ticket offices. They are being asked to pay much more for less." › Rail fare hike: the 10 worst London commutes Annual rail fare rises take effect today. Photograph: Getty Images Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com Subscribe More Related articles UK equities: A logical proposition The case against TTIP There is radical potential in revitalising adult education – why are we letting it disappear?