The rail fares rise for 2023 is to be below the rate of the Retail Prices Index last month, which is normally used a basis for fare changes in the following January. The RPI in June was 11.8 per cent. The Department for Transport has not revealed what next year’s increase will be. It said: ‘The government is taking decisive action to reduce the impact inflation will have on rail fares during the cost of living crisis and will not be increasing fares as much as the July RPI figure. We are also again delaying the increase to March 2023, temporarily freezing fares for passengers to travel at a lower price for the entirety of January and February as we continue to take steps to help struggling households.’ The official increase only affects regulated fares, which include season tickets but exclude many popular fares used for leisure travel, such as off-peak tickets. The number of commuters has stayed well below pre-Covid levels, but leisure traffic has been recovering to the point where it has been above 2019 figures in some areas.
MP protests over Avanti West Coast service cuts
Avanti West Coast’s service cuts have been greeted with dismay by a Shropshire MP. There will be no through services between London and Shrewsbury from Sunday. AWC said it was reducing its service levels because of ‘the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades through increased sickness levels.’ It also said most drivers had not been available to work overtime, only giving short notice. Conservative MP for The Wrekin, Mark Pritchard, said the intercity services to Wellington were ‘well-used’. He branded Avant’s decision as ‘ill-advised’, and would be asking Avanti’s managing director to reconsider the decision as ‘a matter of urgency’. The RMT is denying that absence is the cause of Avanti’s performance problems, and has demanded a meeting with transport secretary Grant Shapps to discuss the situation.