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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Benn vs McDonnell: how Brexit has exposed the fight over Labour's party machine

In the wake of Brexit, should Labour MPs listen more closely to voters, or their own party members?

Two Labour MPs on primetime TV. Two prominent politicians ruling themselves out of a Labour leadership contest. But that was as far as the similarity went.

Hilary Benn was speaking hours after he resigned - or was sacked - from the Shadow Cabinet. He described Jeremy Corbyn as a "good and decent man" but not a leader.

Framing his overnight removal as a matter of conscience, Benn told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I no longer have confidence in him [Corbyn] and I think the right thing to do would be for him to take that decision."

In Benn's view, diehard leftie pin ups do not go down well in the real world, or on the ballot papers of middle England. 

But while Benn may be drawing on a New Labour truism, this in turn rests on the assumption that voters matter more than the party members when it comes to winning elections.

That assumption was contested moments later by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Dismissive of the personal appeal of Shadow Cabinet ministers - "we can replace them" - McDonnell's message was that Labour under Corbyn had rejuvenated its electoral machine.

Pointing to success in by-elections and the London mayoral election, McDonnell warned would-be rebels: "Who is sovereign in our party? The people who are soverign are the party members. 

"I'm saying respect the party members. And in that way we can hold together and win the next election."

Indeed, nearly a year on from Corbyn's surprise election to the Labour leadership, it is worth remembering he captured nearly 60% of the 400,000 votes cast. Momentum, the grassroots organisation formed in the wake of his success, now has more than 50 branches around the country.

Come the next election, it will be these grassroots members who will knock on doors, hand out leaflets and perhaps even threaten to deselect MPs.

The question for wavering Labour MPs will be whether what they trust more - their own connection with voters, or this potentially unbiddable party machine.