Decisions on changes to regulated rail fares in Wales take place each year. Previously fares have increased each year in line with the rate of inflation from the previous summer.
This year however we have taken a different approach. Instead of fares increasing by 12.3% in 2023, the increase will now be capped at 5.9%, the same as the increase introduced in England. This change to fares comes into force from 5 March.
We understand this is a significant increase for passengers in the current cost of living crisis but we have tried to keep the increase as low as possible. Unfortunately given the disappointing budget settlement from the UK Government we cannot afford to deliver a lower increase or a wholescale freeze of rail fares in Wales.
Our budget settlement from the UK Government, combined with a reduced farebox income post pandemic, means we face some difficult choices if we are to maintain the current level of provision of rail services in Wales.
Around 45% of rail fares are regulated, including season tickets on commuter journeys, some Off Peak Return tickets on longer journeys and some Anytime tickets.
These are grouped into ‘fares baskets’, with the 5.9% increase applied to the total of these fares baskets. Therefore while some fares may increase, some will stay the same and some may reduce in price, in order to meet demand and meet the average increase. There are also some tickets which are unregulated, such as Advance tickets, which are not included within this increase.
We recognise rail fares are far more complicated for passengers than they need to be. That is why we have asked Transport for Wales to deliver simple, integrated ticketing solutions across public transport modes to help make public transport easier and more affordable for passengers to use. In addition, despite the challenging financial position, Transport for Wales are retaining a range of cheaper fares for passengers, including free travel for children when they travel with a fare paying adult.
Despite the constraints to our budget we are continuing our £800m investment on brand new trains to operate services across Wales, providing an increase in capacity on services as well as improvements to passenger facilities and comfort. These new trains are coming into operation now and we are confident that they will encourage more people to use rail services, helping to generate the income to support our public transport services.