Five questions answered on new government rail fare price curbs

Will now be capped at 6.1 per cent.

The government has announced plans to curb the rail industries ability to increase fares in England. We answer five questions on the new rail fare price cap.

By how much has the government capped potential rail fare increases?

Regulated fares that could potentially have gone up by 9.1 per cent next January will now be capped at 6.1 per cent.

Regulated affairs are controlled by the government; they include season tickets, "anytime" single tickets around major cities, and off-peak inter-city return tickets.

Why have the government decided to do this now?

The move is part of the government’s Fares and Ticketing review being published by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.

McLoughlin told the BBC: "Commuters will benefit from knowing there is a strict limit on the amount rail companies can put up the cost. People had been seeing 10 per cent rises."

He added: "If we didn't take action, people would complain that we are not taking action. We are taking action, we are investing in the railways, we are trying to keep the price down as much as we can."

In January, by how much are fares expected to rise by?

In 2014 fares will go up by an average of 4.1 per cent, a number calculated using an average of inflation - as measured by the retail prices index (RPI) for July - plus 1 per cent.

Train companies, if they wish, can add up to another 5 per cent on top of the average rise as long as they balance this by others fares that rise by less or fall.

The government has said it plans to limit that extra increase to 2 per cent in the future

But the provision for the average regulated ticket price to go up by 1 per cent more than inflation remains.

What else are the government planning?

Other changes include a pilot scheme that will make all long distance rail tickets sold as singles and not returns, allowing customers to mix and match different ticket types.

There could also be "touch in, touch out" season tickets that could benefit part-time workers.

A code of conduct for train companies in relation to ticket sales and strengthening of rules on how train companies alter opening times at station ticket offices.

What have the critics said about the government’s rail price ticketing plans?

Mary Creagh, the shadow transport secretary, told the BBC:

"It has taken 18 months, delivers fare increases of up to 6 per cent and is too little too late," she said.

"This announcement doesn't go as far as Labour's plans which would prevent train companies from increasing fares beyond one per cent above inflation."

Other campaigners have said the changes don’t go far enough and point out commuters will still have to pay an above-inflation increase next year.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.