Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has defended an average 2.7 per cent rail fare increase as necessary to improve services.
He told talkRADIO’s James Max he predicts a “massive year of change” for the rail system in 2020.
“I’m actually a frustrated commuter myself and I’d rather not see any rises at all but I suspect most people wearily appreciate that if you don’t put the money into the service it will never improve,” he said.
“What I actually want to see is our trains run on time and that will be the big push for a massive year of change in railways this year.”
Around 45 per cent of fares are regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, and are capped the July’s RPI inflation figure, which was 2.8 per cent. Other fare rises are decided by private companies.
Campaign groups have urged the government to use the more commonly-used CPI measure of inflation, which stood at 2.1 per cent in July
Railfuture spokesman Bruce Williamson told talkRADIO it was “outrageous” that fares continued to rise above inflation every year.
“It remains the case that the government is absorbing an increasing chuck of the cost of motoring and they’re not prepared to do the same for rail passengers and I don’t see how they can do that with a straight face,” he said.
Robert Nisbet from industry body Rail Delivery Group urged passengers to “bear with us”.
“We know that there are pockets of difficulty around the network but we're tackling them,” he said.
“We're also putting money in where we think the investment is really required. One thousand new carriages will be taking to the tracks in 2020.”