Please do not board this train: rail fare claims held at red signal

Published: 25th Aug 2015

In brief

Claim

Rail fares have risen by 25% since 2010.

Conclusion

This is correct, but refers to all rail fares rather than just regulated fares, as has been widely quoted.

"Rail fares have risen by 25 per cent since 2010..."

Trades Union Congress (TUC), 18 August 2015

"Rail fares have risen five times faster than wages prompting call for renationalisation"

Mirror headline, 18 August 2015

To coincide with the announcement of 2016 rail fare rises last week, the TUC released its own analysis claiming that rail fares rose by 25% between 2010 and 2015. According to them, this means that rail fares rose just under three times faster than earnings, on average over that five year period.

It's right to say that overall fares have risen by 25%, but their press release mistakenly states that the figure relates to regulated fares only; ONS, which produces the figures, says that the RPI measure of inflation used by the TUC is based on all rail fares not just regulated ones.

About half of rail fare revenue comes from regulated fares, the rest from unregulated fares.

The TUC's findings were reported widely.

The Mirror misquoted them in their headline by claiming that rail fares had risen five times faster than wages. We contacted the Mirror on the day of publication, but it's yet to respond.

Knowing that regulated rail fare rises are based on the overall RPI figure as at the previous July, we did our own analysis.

We found that regulated rail fares (the figures are in Table 48 here) had increased by 23% over the same five year period, just shy of the figure given by the TUC.

To put the fare rise into context, over the same period prices overall rose by around 12% according to the CPI, which ONS advised us is the best measure of inflation.

We spoke to the TUC to clarify our interpretation of their analysis and we are awaiting a response.


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