Rail users will face a fare increase of almost five per cent next year.

The Department for Transport announced a rise of 4.9 per cent after the government capped next year’s hike at well below the nine per cent July RPI figure on which they are historically based.

Fares will not increase until March 3, 2024. Passengers will not see any change until then, giving them more time to purchase season tickets at the current rate. Fare changes will now take place in March every year.

But given the recent fall in the rate of inflation it is likely that even with the government cap the rise in fares will still run ahead of inflation.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Having met our target of halving inflation across the economy, this is a significant intervention by the government to cap the increase in rail fares below last year’s rise.  

“Changed working patterns after the pandemic mean that our railways are still losing money and require significant subsidies, so this rise strikes a balance to keep our railways running while not overburdening passengers.

“We remain committed to supporting the rail sector reform outdated working practices to help put it on a sustainable financial footing.”  

Changes to working and travel patterns have created  significant challenges for the railways. In July to September 2023, rail revenues were 78 per cent of pre-pandemic levels once inflation is taken into account.