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Rail fares have increased at twice the speed of wages since 2009, according to new analysis released today (Wednesday) by the TUC.

The figures show that rail fares have risen by 46% over the past 10 years, while nominal weekly earnings have only grown by 23%. 

The TUC’s findings come as the government is set to announce another year of hefty increases for season ticket holders. 

TUC analysis published in January showed that UK commuters spend up to five times more of their salary on rail fares than other European passengers. 

Despite months of cancellations and delays, private train companies paid out £200 million in dividends to their shareholders in 2017/18; an increase of 6.5% over the last five years.  

Last year, the taxpayer handed £3.8bn to these companies, an increase of 8%.  

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: 

“The last thing UK commuters need is another hefty fare increase. We’re already paying the highest ticket prices in Europe to travel on overcrowded and understaffed trains.  

“It’s time to take the railways back into public hands. Every single penny from every single fare should be invested into our railways. This would free up money for much-needed upgrades and lower ticket prices. 

“The number one priority should be running a world-class railway service, not subsidising private train companies.” 

Editors note

- Wage growth and increases to regulated rail fares for 2009 to 2019 

Year 

Total pay, £ week  

% change in pay per week 

Rail fare index 2018 = 100 

% change in rail fares 

2009 

435 

0.0 

70.6 

5.3 

2010 

444 

2.1 

76.3 

8.0 

2011 

455 

2.5 

81.7 

7.1 

2012 

461 

1.3 

85.6 

4.8 

2013 

466 

1.1 

89.2 

4.2 

2014 

471 

1.1 

92.2 

3.3 

2015 

483 

2.3 

94.1 

2.1 

2016 

495 

2.3 

94.4 

0.3 

2017 

506 

2.4 

97.0 

2.8 

2018  

520 

3.0 

100.0 

3.1 

2019 forecast 

536 

3.1 

102.9 

2.9 

Total 09-19 

23.2 

45.7 

Source: Pay figures from ONS average weekly earnings and OBR forecast for 2018. Rail fares using ONS rail fares figures and OBR’s forecast for RPI in 2019. 

- Around half of all fares are regulated, and include season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long distance journeys and anytime tickets around major cities.  
- TUC analysis that UK commuters spend up to five times as much on season tickets as for European equivalents is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/news/rail-firms-have-paid-over-%C2%A31-billion-shareholders-last-6-years-finds-tuc 
- The £200 million figure on dividends is derived from the latest annual Rail Industry Financial Information published by the Office for Road and Rail: https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/40351/uk-rail-industry-financial-information-2017-18.pdf  
- The government limits the annual increase in regulated rail fares to RPI inflation. That figure will be announced on Wednesday 14 August and will come into effect on Wednesday 1 January 2020.  
- Congress 2019 will be held in the Brighton Centre from Sunday 8 September to Wednesday 11 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/applying-media-or-external-visitor-credentials and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Tuesday 27 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Brighton and will cost £75 +VAT. 
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.