TRAIN fares across Oxfordshire will soon cost passengers up to 20 per cent more than they did five years ago.

Under yesterday’s announcement, fares could rise by up to 3.5 per cent in the new year, meaning an increase of more than £160 for a season ticket from Oxford to London Paddington.

The total cost would be £4,835 compared to the current £4,671.

Since 2009, when a season ticket cost £3,892, that’s an increase of £839, or 21 per cent.

A monthly ticket from Oxford to London currently costs £448.60 but could go up to £464.30, an equivalent of more than £4,600 over the year.

Paul Holmes lives in Oxford and regularly catches the train.

He said: “Most of the time the trains are delayed anyway or there is something wrong with them.

“Do they really need to increase the price? I don’t think they do.”

The 27-year-old chef added said: “For those who can’t afford it, it is going to have a massive impact on them with travelling.”

As part of the Government’s formula, regulated rail fares in England could go up by an average of July’s measure of inflation, plus one per cent.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI) was 2.5 per cent last month, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But under a “flex” rule, train companies can raise some fares by two per cent above RPI, so long as the average stays at one per cent. This means some fares could increase by 4.5 per cent.

Last night Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “This a further cost increase to rail travellers who have already been hit hard by fare increases running way ahead of salaries.

“I think action needs to be taken to cap fare increases so they can’t exceed inflation.”

Cost of Oxford to London season ticket:

  • 2013 – £4,532
  • 2012 – £4,348
  • 2011 – £4,104
  • 2010 – £3,892
  • 2009 – £3,996
  • 2008 – £3,892

Likely new prices:

  • Oxford, Bicester and Didcot to London Paddington up by £163.52 to £4,835
  • Banbury to London up by £175.98 to £5,203
  • Charlbury to London up by £214.34 to £6,338

First Great Western said that the decision to increase prices was in the hands of the Government, despite the fact that rail companies decide the specific increases.

Spokesman James Davis said: “We will do what the Chancellor asks us to do. It is the Government that asks us to increase it, we have to pay it back to them.

“It’s not our decision.”

Speaking about next year’s price hikes, he said: “It’s far too early to say what it will go up by.”

Richard Gibson, from CrossCountry, said: “The announcement today was the RPI figure on which next January’s fare changes will be based, in line with Government policy. We would expect to be in a position to communicate any changes to our customers towards the end of the year.”

Chiltern Railways said its new fares were likely to be announced in December.

Rail minister Claire Perry said: “We do understand people’s concerns about the cost of travel and the impact this has on family budgets.

“That is why for 2014 we reduced average fare rises to RPI plus 0 per cent for the first time in a decade, saving more than a quarter of a million annual season ticket holders an average of £25 each.

“Although a decision on fare rises for 2015 hasn’t yet been taken, we are looking closely at the cost of travel as part of our ongoing commitment to help hard-working people.”

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