Some fares have risen by nearly 30% over the last 5 years!
This post is about National Rail fares in zones 1-6 for operators using the NR1 farescale. That’s most fares for Southeastern, Southern, SouthWestern Railway and Thameslink south of the river Thames plus Thameslink and Great Northern north of West Hampstead and Finsbury Park. These Oyster fares are set by the Rail Delivery Group with input from the TOCs so that the same fares can be set for all the companies.
The fares are adjusted each January using the same formula for regulated fares throughout the UK. This means that on average fares rose by around 2-3% each year. There is a problem where the fare in question is quite small, because the increase must be a multiple of 10p. A 2% rise on a £2 fare is only 4p, so when rounded up to 10p the increase becomes 5%. The logical and fair thing to do would be to increase one year and then freeze the next so that cheaper fares did not become disproportionately more expensive. Sadly that hasn’t happened.
The table below lists all the relevant adult fares comparing 2015 with 2020 and showing the increase over those 5 years. As you can see, every fare has risen by 10p each year with the single exception of the peak zone 1-6 fare.
Daily Capping with Contactless (mainly zone 1-2)
|10:10||Upminster (6)||Tower Hill (1)||£3.30||£3.30||will become a zone 6-3 extension later|
|12:15||Aldgate (1)||Baker Street (1)||£2.40||£5.70|
|13:02||Baker Street (1)||Oxford Circus (1)||£2.40||£8.10|
|14:28||Bond Street (1)||Camden Town (2)||£1.00||£9.10||Zone 1-2 daily cap plus £1.70 off-peak extension fare for zones 6-3|
|16:30||Camden Town (2)||Upminster (6)||£2.80||£11.90||As above plus a zone 3-6 peak extension fare|
Winners and Losers
If you travel from Bexleyheath, or any other zone 5 station, to a London Terminal at peak times then you’ve seen your fares rise by just over 10%. But travel off-peak within a single zone, for example Crayford to Erith, and your fares have risen three times as much, by nearly 30% (26% in zone 1).
The 2021 revision
As things stand fares are due to rise by 1.6% in January. If it is decreed that every fare above must rise again then the disparity will just get worse. Only the peak zones 1-6 fare will be just above the 10p threshold, at 10.9p. I therefore propose that any fares with an increase of less than 5p should this year be frozen.