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Five questions answered on new government rail fare price curbs

Will now be capped at 6.1 per cent.

New Statesman
Photograph: Getty Images

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.